Reports: Merlin Olsen dies at 69

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.

62 responses to “Reports: Merlin Olsen dies at 69

  1. Classy, intelligent guy, and a great player. RIP. My condolences to his family and friends.

  2. Ron Burgundy also knew him. Merlin Olsen used to go to Ron’s apartment…on occasion.

  3. the football worl has lost a great player today who also had one of the great names in NFL history. RIP Merlin Olsen, it also seems kind of fitting that he dies at the age of 69, one of the great numbers in history.

  4. Will Ron Burgundy be at the funeral? Merlin Olsen used to come to his mahogany-smelling apartment on occasion……
    Just kidding – very sad news, Olsen also was a decent broadcaster too. RIP.

  5. RIP Merlin. You were great to watch play and announce. Some of today’s players could learn from how you conducted yourself on and off the field. All class..

  6. I didn’t watch him play, but enjoyed him as a broadcaster and an actor on “Little House.”

  7. Condolenses. Most on this site do not remember or saw the Rams fearsome foursome D.
    That is when football was football.

  8. Wow….
    Merlin Olsen was one hell of a football player, tough and talented as they come. Wasn’t a bad little actor, either, got a bit of pleasure from his characters on Little House and Father Murphy.
    Too young, far too young.

  9. Hell of a player and a better person OFF of the field. A lot of today’s players could have learned a lot from him about how to handle themselves off of the field!

  10. Not only was he a great player but a first class guy. Grew up watching him call games on NBC. Plus he pitched FTD flowers and starred on Little House. RIP Merlin.

  11. Being a resident of Logan, Utah I can say that this man is about as close to a hero as there is around here. There is a city park named after him and he is probably this area’s favorite son. Sad day for all sports fans – Merlin left behind a legacy of class, dignity and was truly a gentle giant.

  12. Great player, good guy. I remember in Jerry Kramer’s book Olsen and Alex Karras were the two DT’s who gave him the most trouble.
    And it seemed like everything he did he was good at it – even acting.

  13. Great guy. Great Player, Great Football commentator, and not bad as an actor.
    His career shows why an owner should want to move a franchise to Los Angeles. To attract free agents. Players get a chance to get into acting.
    Merlin and Rosie Greer got plenty of acting jobs (it helps to be big and fit).
    Merlin Olsen was a class guy. The NFL and America are worse off without him.
    Thanks Merlin and enjoy your eternal reward.

  14. What a great player….and enjoyed his announcing…not a phony like most today. RIP sir.

  15. Gasped aloud when I saw this headline. Never saw him play but the Fearsome Foursome is legendary. Still spot him when I come across “Little House” while flipping channels. Classy guy. Rest in peace, Merlin.

  16. RIP. the world and especially the football world lost a great one today.
    as said previously there are a ton of guys currently in the league that could learn more than a few things from merlin.
    you will be missed.

  17. Great football player and a class human being. He will be missed. Condolences to his family and friends.

  18. What a sad day. I liked the guy as a player, an actor and a color man. A lot of the media types criticized him because he wasn’t as critical of the players like they felt he should have been but I would rather listen to him describe a play and why it didn’t work than listen to Theismann rant about why a player sucked and how he was responsible for the failure of a play. A classy guy who will be missed.

  19. RIP. Truly a great force on the field , in the booth and community, and at home has passed.

  20. Sad news. Played golf with him once in Hawaii. He was one of the nicest, down to earth guys you’d ever met.

  21. As a child growing up in Los Angeles suburb of Northridge in the ’60s, this man was a hero. What a great player, what an even better man.
    I teared up reading the headline about Willie Davis two days ago. I cried out loud this morning.
    Condolences to his family. A sad, sad day indeed.

  22. Terrible news, as with any passing of anyone that provided memories. Merlin did that for me. I do remember the Fearsome Foursome days. While from Pittsburgh and being a Steeler fan, for some reason my brother loved the LA Rams of that period, with that D-line, Roman Gabriel, Les Josephson, etc.
    RIP big fella and God bless.

  23. i swear i am not joking with this comment, i always wondered if he was gay. my gaydar would go off like crazy whenever i saw him on television or heard his voice. anyone else?

  24. Unbelievable player on the field and a class act off. We need more Merlin Olsens in the league. Rest in peace and sympathies/good thoughts with his family.

  25. Mesothelomia? How, I wonder? That is usually asbestos-related.
    A sad day indeed. He always struck me as a very good man.

  26. One of the best rappers of the 80’s West Coast gangsta rap scene. Man could spit like no other.
    “I ain’t a killer but don’t push me. Revenge is like the sweetest joy next to gettin’ pussy”
    – Merlin Olsen

  27. No mention of his career as a color commentator? That’s poor reporting, MDS.
    RIP, Merlin Olsen. I have fond memories of Sunday afternoons listening to you and Dick Enberg broadcasting AFC West games when I was a kid.

  28. Sad, he was great, he covered a ton of Bronco games and he was always fun to listen to talking about the greatness of Elway.
    Beast of a player too.

  29. No coincidence that an NBC website doesn’t report his lawsuit against them for exposure to asbestos which causes mesothelioma which he died from.
    Just stick to facts MDS. Uh-oh.

  30. For those not young enough to know, Mr. Olsen was on TV a lot as a spokesman for FTD Flowers (that’s why the flower references).
    The words good and class come up alot when referring to this man. He was a great athlete and human being.
    May he rest in peace.

  31. Well, if you’re going to check out, you might as well do it in the middle of something you love.
    Oh, wait…you said AT 69.
    RIP Gentle Giant.

  32. Great player, classy guy. RIP Merlin, and thanks for the great memories.

  33. Many of todays athletes could learn from Mr Olsen both on and off the field.
    IMHO he deserves to be refered to as Mr as he was such a class act.

  34. Pity that Ben Rapelisberger didn’t die of some dick disease and Merlin coulda hung in there for 20 more years.

  35. I’ll echo the previous posts. Great MAN.
    The current crop in the broadcast booth should be made to listen to his broadcasts.
    Good insight presented in a respectable manner without all the slobbering.
    Hated the Rams loved Merlin.
    Condolences to all who knew him.

  36. Bummer. How the hell does a D-lineman get an asbestos related disease, was he a pipefitter in college or something?

  37. Talent, Intelligence and hard word. Well played, Sir.
    Here is your roll model boys.

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