Rams Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen dead at 69 [Updated]
Merlin Olsen, a Hall of Fame defensive lineman with the Los Angeles Rams who was a charter member of the team’s famed Fearsome Foursome, then made a remarkably smooth transition into careers in broadcasting and acting, has died. He was 69.
[Updated at 10:06 a.m.: Olsen died early Thursday at City of Hope hospital in Duarte after battling cancer, according to a statement from Utah State University, where he played college football.]In December, Olsen sued NBC Studios and several other companies claiming that his exposure to asbestos since he was about 10 resulted in mesothelioma.
Olsen, played 15 seasons in the NFL from 1962 to 1976, all with the Rams. He was the league’s most valuable player in 1974 and appeared 14 times in the Pro Bowl. After retiring as a player, he spent another 15 seasons in broadcast booths as an analyst for NBC and CBS and acted in such television shows as "Little House on the Prairie" and "Father Murphy."
With the Rams, Olsen helped popularize the star power of defensive linemen sacking the quarterback. The Fearsome Foursome of Olsen, David "Deacon" Jones, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy, a rare bright spot on mediocre teams from 1963 to 1966, used size, speed and skill to terrorize offenses.
-- Keith Thursby
Photo: Merlin Olsen while a member of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1960s. Credit: Vic Stein