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#27: Merlin Olsen | The Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players (2010) | NFL Films
#27: Merlin Olsen | The Top 100: NFL’s Greatest Players (2010) | NFL Films
Published: 2016/06/05
Channel: NFL Films
Remembering Merlin Olsen (1940-2010)
Remembering Merlin Olsen (1940-2010)
Published: 2016/11/16
Channel: Tyler Barney
Merlin Olsen Little House Interview
Merlin Olsen Little House Interview
Published: 2013/03/17
Channel: Melissa Sue Anderson Fan
Merlin Olsen
Merlin Olsen
Published: 2012/11/05
Channel: KayBo
Was Merlin Olsen mean in the NFL?
Was Merlin Olsen mean in the NFL?
Published: 2009/02/06
Channel: WNST
Merlin Olsen Field Announcement at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum
Merlin Olsen Field Announcement at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum
Published: 2009/12/08
Channel: Utah State University
Los Angeles Rams Merlin Olsen
Los Angeles Rams Merlin Olsen
Published: 2017/01/19
Channel: Awesomeroxy 1990
Father Murphy Pilot 1
Father Murphy Pilot 1
Published: 2009/06/05
Channel: FatherMurphyfan
2016 Merlin Olsen Luncheon
2016 Merlin Olsen Luncheon
Published: 2016/02/23
Channel: ProFootballHOF
Football, TV and Utah legend Merlin Olsen dies at 69
Football, TV and Utah legend Merlin Olsen dies at 69
Published: 2010/03/13
Channel: KSL.com
Merlin Olsen FTD Commercial 1986
Merlin Olsen FTD Commercial 1986
Published: 2010/03/13
Channel: skiatl
Conrad Dobler and Merlin Olsen
Conrad Dobler and Merlin Olsen
Published: 2017/02/15
Channel: Kaz Maeda
Hollywood Palace - Fearsome Foursome
Hollywood Palace - Fearsome Foursome
Published: 2015/09/01
Channel: MeadowlandsMikeMathe
merlin olsen lawsuit
merlin olsen lawsuit
Published: 2016/11/27
Channel: Expensive Things Channel
Merlin Olsen Memoriam
Merlin Olsen Memoriam
Published: 2010/03/11
Channel: Utah State University
Top 5 Rams of All Time | NFL
Top 5 Rams of All Time | NFL
Published: 2016/04/14
Channel: NFL
Merlin Olsen Tribute Video - Utah State University
Merlin Olsen Tribute Video - Utah State University
Published: 2009/12/08
Channel: Utah State University
Merlin Olsen Field Announcement - XXL Broadcast
Merlin Olsen Field Announcement - XXL Broadcast
Published: 2009/12/08
Channel: Utah State University
1988 NFL on NBC Intro (Week 2: WAS vs PIT)
1988 NFL on NBC Intro (Week 2: WAS vs PIT)
Published: 2017/02/03
Channel: HRTVFan2
interview jonathan garvey merlin olsen petite maison dans la prairie VOSTFR
interview jonathan garvey merlin olsen petite maison dans la prairie VOSTFR
Published: 2014/07/15
Channel: gil berousel
Michael Landon Tribute / Emmys 1991/ Melissa Gilbert & Merlin Olsen
Michael Landon Tribute / Emmys 1991/ Melissa Gilbert & Merlin Olsen
Published: 2017/08/06
Channel: Holly Martins
The Wisdom of Merlin Olsen
The Wisdom of Merlin Olsen
Published: 2015/06/08
Channel: Tom Olin
Merlin Olson FTD Commercial
Merlin Olson FTD Commercial
Published: 2014/02/14
Channel: totalsports3570
Merlin Olsen.m4v
Merlin Olsen.m4v
Published: 2010/03/14
Channel: Eric Caron
Fearsome Foursome
Fearsome Foursome's Merlin Olsen Has Died
Published: 2010/03/11
Channel: Associated Press
Merlin Olsen Died
Merlin Olsen Died
Published: 2010/03/11
Channel: ConalCochran
old FTD flowers commercial merlin olsen
old FTD flowers commercial merlin olsen
Published: 2016/11/02
Channel: jeremiah johnson
Ford Hometown Hall of Famer - Merlin Olsen
Ford Hometown Hall of Famer - Merlin Olsen
Published: 2017/09/25
Channel: ProFootballHOF
merlin olsen lawsuit  001
merlin olsen lawsuit 001
Published: 2016/12/19
Channel: Melaine Marciano
1988 - Olympic-Themed FTD Commercial with Merlin Olsen
1988 - Olympic-Themed FTD Commercial with Merlin Olsen
Published: 2016/06/27
Channel: TheClassicSports
merlin olsen lawsuit
merlin olsen lawsuit
Published: 2014/02/06
Channel: jazzy Olx
1988 NBC NFL AFC Divisional Playoff Open
1988 NBC NFL AFC Divisional Playoff Open
Published: 2014/11/20
Channel: Beta MAX
Ollie Matson #33 Tom Fears #55 Merlin Olsen #74 Dick Butkus #51 Football Rams Linemen Hall of Famers
Ollie Matson #33 Tom Fears #55 Merlin Olsen #74 Dick Butkus #51 Football Rams Linemen Hall of Famers
Published: 2015/03/30
Channel: Mike Baker
Merlin Olsen talks about qualifications and voting for the Hall of Fame
Merlin Olsen talks about qualifications and voting for the Hall of Fame
Published: 2009/02/17
Channel: WNST
Merlin Olsen: Hall of Fame Football Defensive Tackle
Merlin Olsen: Hall of Fame Football Defensive Tackle
Published: 2017/04/06
Channel: WhoWhat
Merlin Olsen
Merlin Olsen
Published: 2015/11/18
Channel: Audiopedia
merlin olsen lawsuit
merlin olsen lawsuit
Published: 2017/03/21
Channel: hizar A
Merlin Olsen FTD commercial - 1987
Merlin Olsen FTD commercial - 1987
Published: 2013/07/06
Channel: Ranger232
USU Football merlin olsen statue
USU Football merlin olsen statue
Published: 2010/10/24
Channel: TheValleyChannel
Ford Hometown Hall of Famer - Merlin Olsen
Ford Hometown Hall of Famer - Merlin Olsen
Published: 2017/10/03
Channel: ProFootballHOF
Merlin Olsen
Merlin Olsen
Published: 2013/04/26
Channel: SelmaWorlds
Merlin Olsen Dead at 69 - FULL STORY
Merlin Olsen Dead at 69 - FULL STORY
Published: 2010/03/12
Channel: Dreamofwealth
Merlin Olsen Promotion
Merlin Olsen Promotion
Published: 2016/05/06
Channel: Fernando Guzman
merlin olsen lawsuit
merlin olsen lawsuit
Published: 2016/12/30
Channel: Hanlala el-Ramin
Merlin Olsen-Stump Ad
Merlin Olsen-Stump Ad
Published: 2015/12/04
Channel: Martinez Santoyo Nayely
Merlin Olsen Hall of Fame High School
Merlin Olsen Hall of Fame High School
Published: 2017/10/05
Channel: Bo Lamb
1982 NFL on NBC Intro
1982 NFL on NBC Intro
Published: 2012/09/22
Channel: Jean0987654321
merlin olsen stump ad
merlin olsen stump ad
Published: 2016/05/03
Channel: Alvarado Morales Jaqueline
Vote Merlin Olsen 2014
Vote Merlin Olsen 2014
Published: 2014/11/17
Channel: Jett Johnson
Merlin Olsen High School Hall of Fame
Merlin Olsen High School Hall of Fame
Published: 2017/11/15
Channel: Bo Lamb
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WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

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Merlin Olsen
Merlin Olsen.jpg
No. 74
Position: Defensive tackle
Personal information
Born: September 15, 1940
Logan, Utah
Died: March 11, 2010(2010-03-11) (aged 69)
Duarte, California
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight: 270 lb (122 kg)
Career information
High school: Logan (UT)
College: Utah State
NFL Draft: 1962 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
AFL draft: 1962 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games: 208
Interceptions: 1
Player stats at NFL.com

Merlin Jay Olsen (/ˈlsən/; September 15, 1940 – March 11, 2010)[1] was an American football player, announcer, and actor. He played his entire 15-year professional football career in National Football League (NFL) as a defensive tackle with the Los Angeles Rams. He was selected to the Pro Bowl a record 14 straight times, missing selection only in the last year of his career. This record of 14 seasons selected to play in the Pro Bowl, consecutive or otherwise, is current and shared with former offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, former tight end Tony Gonzalez, and former quarterback Peyton Manning. A recipient of the 1961 Outland Trophy as the best lineman in college football, Olsen is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. As an actor, he portrayed farmer Jonathan Garvey on Little House on the Prairie. After leaving that series, he starred in his own NBC drama, Father Murphy.

Early life[edit]

Born to Merle Barrus and Lynn Jay Olsen in Logan, Utah, the second of nine siblings and the first-born son, Olsen had three brothers and five sisters: Colleen, Clark, Lorraine, Gwen, Phil, Winona, Ramona, and Orrin.[citation needed]

College[edit]

Olsen attended Utah State University where he became a member of the Sigma Chi fraternity, and was a three-year letterman in football as a defensive tackle. He graduated from the College of Business and Social Sciences at USU with a bachelor's degree in Finance in 1962 and a master's degree in Economics in 1971.[2] He later received an honorary doctorate degree in business from the Huntsman School.[2]

In football, as a senior, he was a consensus All-American selection (making the vast majority of All-America teams) and was the winner of the Outland Trophy. After Olsen's junior year of 1960 he was also named All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and Newspaper Enterprise Association. He was also All-Conference in both 1960 and 1961. Olsen and Utah State were in the 1960 Sun Bowl, losing to New Mexico State, 20–13. Led by Olsen, the Aggie defense held the New Mexico State Aggies to just 44 rushing yards on 32 carries.[3]

The Aggie defense Olsen anchored as a senior gave up an average of 50.8 rushing yards (which led the nation), 88.6 passing yards, and 139.4 total yards which all still stand as school records for defense. The 1961 Aggie defense gave up an average 7.8 points a game, which is second in team history behind Olsen's 1960 team, which allowed 6.5 points per game.[4] Additionally, the Aggie defense held four opponents to less than 100 total yards. One, the University of Idaho, was held to a school-record 23 total yards, with the Aggies winning 69–0.

The Aggies, not known as a national power football program, finished 10th in both the AP and UPI post-season polls, the only time that has occurred in school history. The Aggies had a combined 18–3–1 record during Olsen's junior and senior seasons under coach John Ralston and were conference champions those two seasons as well.[5]

Awards and honors[edit]

Olsen played in the East-West Shrine Game in 1961 and in 2003 was voted to the game's Hall of Fame.[6] He also played in the Hula Bowl after his senior season and was voted MVP of the game.[7]

Olsen is a member of the State of Utah’s Sports Hall of Fame, the Utah State University Sports Hall of Fame and USU’s All-Century Football Team. In 2000, he was selected by Sports Illustrated as one of the State of Utah’s Top 50 Athletes of the Century. He was voted to the All-Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1988. In 1969, he was voted to the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Time All-America team with collegiate greats such as Bronko Nagurski, Red Grange, Jim Thorpe, and O. J. Simpson, among others.[8]

In 2008, Olsen was named to the 75th Anniversary All-Sun Bowl Team to commemorate the Sun Bowl Association's Diamond Anniversary.[9]

Utah State University announced the intention to name its football field after Olsen during a ceremony in Logan during halftime of the USU-St. Mary’s basketball game on December 5, 2009.[10] HOF Sculptor Blair Buswell created a bronze sculpture that sits at the entrance to Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium.

Olsen also was a three-time academic All-American at Utah State and graduated summa cum laude in 1962 with a degree in finance.[4]

Professional football career[edit]

Coming out of college, Olsen had offers from both the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League and the Denver Broncos of the rival American Football League. He chose the security of the NFL and signed with the Rams. Olsen's first contract was for around $50,000 for two years, plus a signing bonus. It was 1962, and the average football player salary at the time was around $12,000 a year. He was the first USU Aggie to be drafted in the 1st round of the NFL draft.[4]

Olsen played professionally (from 1962 to 1976) for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League. A leading defensive star of his era, he missed only two games in his 15-season NFL career. He was named the NFL's Rookie of the Year in 1962 and was First-team All-Pro in 1964, and 1966 through 1970. He was voted Second-team All-Pro in 1965, 1973 and 1974.[11]

Olsen almost ended up on offense, but was later moved to the defensive line after a few experiments in practice. Soon he became part of one of the best front fours in NFL history. Deacon Jones, Rosey Grier, and Lamar Lundy joined Olsen on the defensive line in 1963 that was nicknamed "The Fearsome Foursome".[11] He was named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Week for week 12 in 1965. Olsen scored his first touchdown in that game.

Throughout the 1960s, this quartet terrorized opposing offenses. Olsen's play helped the Rams to the playoffs in 1967 and 1969. He was voted the club's Outstanding Defensive Lineman from 1967–70 by the Los Angeles Rams Alumni. In week 14, 1967, Olsen and the rest of the Fearsome Foursome were named the AP NFL Defensive Players of the Week for their performance against the Baltimore Colts. In the 1970s, Olsen continued his dominant play at defensive tackle and his eleven sacks in 1972 were second on the team. After week 8 in 1972, Olsen was named the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Week for the third time in his career.[11]

The Rams won the NFC West crown in 1973 through 1976 thanks in part to the play of Olsen. They ranked first in the NFL in run defense in 1973 and 1974 and finished second in sacking opposing passers both years. In 1973 Olsen was voted the NFLPA NFC Defensive Lineman of the Year and the next season, 1974, he was the recipient of Bert Bell Award as the NFL MVP as voted by the Maxwell Club. Olsen accepted the award "on behalf of all who toil in the NFL trenches".

Three of the Olsen brothers, Merlin, Phil, and Orrin, played in the NFL, with Merlin and Phil playing together for the Rams from 1971–74. A nephew, Hans, son of his brother, Clark, also played professional football.[citation needed] In 1975 and 1976, the Rams defense finished second in the NFL against the run while ranking in the top five in sacking opposing quarterbacks and compiling a 22-5-1 record over those two seasons.

Olsen's last game was the NFC Championship game in 1976 at Bloomington, Minnesota. The Vikings took advantage on a freak play early in the game. A blocked field goal returned 90 yards for a touchdown shocked the Rams in the first quarter. The defense was later victimized by a couple of big plays by the Vikings. The Rams came up short, losing 24–13, bringing the storied career of the Rams finest defensive tackle to an end.

Olsen made the Pro Bowl a record 14 times, only missing it in his final year. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982 in his first year of eligibility; he selected his college position coach Tony Knap as his presenter.[12] In 1999, Olsen was ranked 25th on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.[13][14]

Post-athletic career[edit]

Olsen enjoyed continued success after the NFL as a broadcaster, actor and businessman.[15]

Broadcaster[edit]

Olsen served as a television color commentator, teaming mostly with Dick Enberg on NBC's coverage of the AFC during the late 1970s and almost all of the 1980s. He and Enberg also teamed for four Super Bowls (XV, XVII, XX and XXIII), as well as nine Rose Bowls from 1980 to 1988. Olsen also worked Super Bowl XIII in 1979 with Curt Gowdy and John Brodie (Enberg was then serving as pre-game/halftime/post-game host). In 1989, Olsen was replaced by[16] Bill Walsh as NBC's lead NFL color commentator. For the 1989 season, Olsen worked with Charlie Jones on NBC's broadcasts. In 1990 and 1991, he moved to CBS Sports doing NFL games with Dick Stockton.

Actor[edit]

Olsen developed a successful career as an actor. He appears as Sergeant Fitzsimmons in the Dean Martin motion picture, Something Big in 1971.

In 1970, he appeared once on Petticoat Junction, in the episode: "With This Ring". He played mountaineer Merlin Fergus.

When Little House on the Prairie actor Victor French left to star in his own comedy Carter Country in 1977, Olsen was tapped to play Michael Landon's new sidekick Jonathan Garvey for several years. One memorable quote from his character's son Andy Garvey, "My pa doesn't know anything about football!" came when Andy's friends suggested that Jonathan coach their football team.

A couple of years later, Landon cast Olsen as the eponymous Father Murphy, which lasted for two seasons.

In the Highway to Heaven episode 2.12 ("The Good Doctor"), the main character Alex tells Mark Gordon (Victor French) that "All I could see was the flowers and the beard. I thought you were Merlin Olsen." This is an inside joke since all three actors, Merlin Olsen, Michael Landon, and Victor French were in the TV series Little House On the Prairie earlier in their careers.

Olsen's last acting work was in the short-lived 1988 TV series Aaron's Way, in which he played the lead role. He was also in the John Wayne movie The Undefeated as Little George along with teammate Roman Gabriel.

Pitchman[edit]

Olsen was also the commercial spokesman for FTD Florists for many years. A part-time resident of the Coachella Valley, Olsen was the longtime radio and television spokesman for Palm Desert-based El Paseo Bank.[17]

Olsen also appeared in many Sigma Chi fraternity promotional campaigns; Merlin, along with his brother Phil, was a Life Loyal Sig, Significant Sig (given to members for distinguishing acts outside the fraternity) and a member of the Order of Constantine (given for service to the Fraternity). Olsen donated one of his cleats, which were bronzed, to be used during the annual football rivalry between two Las Vegas high schools, Eldorado High School and Chaparral High School, which both opened in 1973. Each year, Olsen presented the "trophy" in the ceremony at the rivalry game.[citation needed]

Olsen often co-hosted the Children's Miracle Network telethons, a humanitarian organization founded in 1983 by Marie Osmond and John Schneider.

Awards[edit]

He was named the Walter Camp Man of the Year in 1982 and Athlete of the Century for the state of Utah. During halftime of a basketball game between Utah State, Olsen's alma mater, and Saint Mary's on December 5, 2009, it was announced that the playing surface inside Romney Stadium, home stadium for Utah State's football program, would be named Merlin Olsen Field in Olsen's honor. Because of Olsen's illness, Utah State decided not to wait until the 2010 football season to hold the ceremony; he was able to attend the game, but did not speak.[18] A sculpture of Olsen was unveiled in a plaza south of the stadium during an official dedication ceremony in Fall 2010.[19] Olsen was voted to the California Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2010, along with Bill Walton, Dwight Stones, and Jim Otto, among others.[20]

Personal life[edit]

Olsen married fellow USU student Susan Wakley on March 30, 1962, and they had three children: Kelly, Jill, and Nathan, and four grandchildren. He was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Olsen also served as Grand Marshal of the 1983 Rose Parade.

Mesothelioma diagnosis and death[edit]

He was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma in 2009,[21] and underwent three courses of chemotherapy. In December 2009 he filed a lawsuit against 25 defendants including NBC Studios, NBC Universal, and 20th Century Fox, Georgia Pacific, Sherwin-Williams, and Lennox Corp. for allegedly exposing him to the asbestos which he claimed had caused his cancer.[22][23] Olsen died on March 11, 2010 at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, California,[24] at the age of 69.[18][25]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role
1969 The Undefeated Little George
1971 One More Train to Rob Eli Jones
Something Big Sgt. Fitzsimmons
1975 Mitchell Benton

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1970 Petticoat Junction Merlin Fergus Episode: "With This Ring"
1973 Kung Fu Perlee Skowrin Episode: "Nine Lives"
1974 Dr. Simon Locke The Cat Episode: "The Killer"
1977-1981 Little House on the Prairie Jonathan Garvey 51 episodes
1978 A Fire in the Sky Stan Webster Television film
1980 The Golden Moment: An Olympic Love Story Todd Simms Television film
1981 Walking Tall Webb McClain Episode: "Hitman"
1981-1983 Father Murphy John Michael Murphy 34 episodes
1982 The Juggler of Notre Dame Jonas Television film
1984 Time Bomb Jake Calahan Television film
1986 Fathers and Sons Buddy Landau Four episodes
1988 Aaron's Way Aaron Miller 14 episodes

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Smith, Michael David (March 11, 2010). "Reports: Merlin Olsen dies at 69". Pro Football Talk. Retrieved March 11, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Honorary Degree Recipients
  3. ^ "Merlin Olsen College". Lowongankerja2010x.com. Retrieved 12 March 2010. [dead link]
  4. ^ a b c Utah State University Media Guide
  5. ^ "Utah State Championships". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  6. ^ The East West Shrine Game | Hall of Fame Archived July 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ Hula Bowl | History Archived July 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ NEA All-Time All-America Team – Beckly Post-Herald, August 24, 1969
  9. ^ "Utah State's Merlin Olsen Named To 75th Anniversary All-Sun Bowl Team". 
  10. ^ "Utah State University Will Honor Merlin Olsen on Saturday, Dec. 5 At Aggie Basketball Game – Utah State Official Athletic site". Utahstateaggies.com. 2009-11-16. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  11. ^ a b c 2008 St. Louis Rams Media Guide
  12. ^ profootballhof.com - Merlin Olsen - enshrinement speech - 1982 - accessed 2012-03-25
  13. ^ "NFL News, Scores, Schedule & Standings - Pro Football". Sporting News. 
  14. ^ "NFL News, Scores, Schedule & Standings - Pro Football". Sporting News. 
  15. ^ "BREAKING NEWS: THE FEARSOME FOURSOME NOW TWO: NFL LEGEND MERLIN OLSEN DEAD AT 69". The Enterprise Report. 
  16. ^ "History of #1 analyst demotions". Classic Sports TV and Media. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "The Desert Sun - Palm Springs and Coachella Valley news". Desert Sun. 
  18. ^ a b "Olsen, Hall of Famer and member of 'Fearsome Foursome' dies". NFL.com. Associated Press. 2010-03-11. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  19. ^ Harrison, Shawn (December 6, 2009). "Field named after Olsen". The Herald Journal. Retrieved December 6, 2009. 
  20. ^ "California Sports Hall of Fame". www.californiasportshalloffame.org. 
  21. ^ Eborn, Jared (6 December 2009). "Utah State football names field after Merlin Olsen". 
  22. ^ "Merlin Olsen suing NBC". TV Squad. 2009-12-31. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  23. ^ "Mesothelioma Takes Life of Merlin Olsen". 2010-03-12. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  24. ^ Thursby, Keith (2010-03-12). "Merlin Olsen dies at 69; Hall of Fame football star later became actor". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-03-12. 
  25. ^ Goldstein, Richard (11 March 2010). "Merlin Olsen, 69, Football Star, Commentator and Actor, Dies" – via www.nytimes.com. 

External links[edit]

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