Merlin Olsen, the Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive tackle who played his entire 15-year career for the Los Angeles Rams, has died at the age of 69, according to various media accounts.
Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reports that Olsen died early this morning. The Cache Valley Daily, a newspaper based in Olsen’s hometown of Logan, Utah, reports that Olsen was diagnosed with mesothelioma and had been undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy.
Olsen played college football at Utah State, and as a senior in 1961 he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best lineman.
In 1962, the Rams selected him with the third overall pick in the NFL draft and the Denver Broncos selected him with the second overall pick in the AFL draft. He chose the Rams after the rival teams from rival leagues engaged in a bidding war for his services.
Olsen was worth the money. He was named Rookie of the Year in 1962, and he was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first 14 NFL seasons. He retired after the 1976 season and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1982.