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Pro Football Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen dies

March 11, 2010 |  8:39 am

Merlin Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle Merlin Olsen, who played 15 years with the Los Angeles Rams, has died. He was 69.

The St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported the news Thursday morning, and the St. Louis Rams have confirmed it. Olsen was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year.

The Rams selected Olsen with the third overall pick in the 1962 NFL draft. He was also selected by the Denver Broncos in the AFL draft, but decided to go with the Rams after they offered him a lucrative contract.

Olsen was the 1962 NFL rookie of the year and was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection. He retired in 1976 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.

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."

In December, Olsen sued NBC Studios and several other companies claiming that his exposure to asbestos resulted in mesothelioma.

For more on Olsen's life and career, go to The Times' Afterword blog and

-- Austin Knoblauch

RELATED: Merlin Olsen photo gallery

Photo: Merlin Olsen in 1963. Credit: Associated Press