Hall of Fame running back dies at age 80

Ollie Matson, a member of the 1972 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has died.  He was 80.

A first-round pick (third overall) of the Chicago Cardinals in 1952, Matson was named rookie of the year, along with 49ers running back Hugh McElhenny.

In 14 seasons with the Cardinals, Rams, Lions, and Eagles, Matson rushed for 5,173 yards.  He added 3,285 yards receiving.

He also had nine touchdowns on punt and kickoff returns, including six in his first three seasons.

Matson was a six-time Pro Bowler and a five-time first-team All Pro.

13 responses to “Hall of Fame running back dies at age 80

  1. Great player, and a great man. I got to met Mr. Matson at a Card Show many years ago and he could not have been nicer.

    Interesting fact: Ollie was traded by the Cardinals for nine LA Rams players after the 1958 season.

  2. Mr. Matson was part of the University of San Francisco team that went undefeated in 1951. The team was invited to a major bowl in the southern part of the United States. The bowl promoters said they would be welcome provided they leave their 2 black players, Ollie and Mr. Burl Toler, a future N.F.L. official, home. The Jesuit fathers who ran the university told the bowl promoters under no circumstances would they play in the bowl unless ALL players made the trip and were allowed to play. They also informed the promoters they would not be playing in their bowl. The team was then referred to as undefeated, untied and uninvited. Also on that team were Gino Marchetti, Colts and Bob St. Clair 49ers. During that period, U.S.F. had a public relations rep by the name of Pete Rozelle. R.I.P. Ollie.

  3. of course in the olden days, they didnt rack up the stats they do now, and altho teams ran the ball more wbw, they often employed multiple runners… halfback (sometimes multiple, or a half and a tailback), fullback (not just a blocker, all blocked), and a qb who ran a bunch, and didnt take all snaps. matson was also a returner and a track star. a lot of people overestimate players these days who play in the star system. a lot of them wouldnt have been that successful wbw.

    that trade didnt do that much for either team. lets look at it as kind of a herschel walker trade.

    the cards had a winning season in 1956. no other good seasons since 1949. they had 3 winning and 1 .500 season in the next 5 years, but that was well before the days of expanded playoffs. but that was better than LA did after the trade.

    altho the rams had a winning season in 1958, they had been sliding since ’55. and they would not rebound to start having winning seasons again till ’66 when george allen came to town.

    that trade basically helped doom the rams to the basement of the nfc west till 1966. especially since most backs who hit that age (28) arent going to play better than they did earlier. in fact. most players wont play better, period. in any sport.

    matson was on a good detroit team (better than record indicated) in ’63 behind great bears and packers squads and a better colt team. he was an old back by then.

    whatever success the eagles had from 64-66, he was just hanging on. the rams got took.

  4. @commandercornpone

    bidwell got rid of mattson for 9 nobodies! salary slashing! dont think any of the 9 even made the team if i recall one of those nfl films clips. bidwell’s cards did not win a playoff game from 1948 until 1998 or even make the playoffs.

    salary slashing as yogi said “deja vu all over again” look how the bidwells disposed of almost all their high salaried players who got them to the super bowl.

  5. To: xtb3

    Actually, OT Ken Panfil, and DT Frank Fuller became Pro Bowl players, and 2 other key guys had horrific knee injuries, which 50 years pretty much spelled the end of your career back then.

    The trade actually was disasterous for the Rams, they had an 8-4 record in 1958 but dropped to 2-10, 4-7-1, 4-10, and 1-12-1 in 1959-1962 respectively with Matson. Matson was a great player witht he Cardinals, but not with the Rams.

    Another interesting fact is that the deal was swung by Rams GM (and future NFL commissioner) Pete Rozelle. Mr Rozelle had many many great ideas and innovations, but that trade wasn’t one of them.

  6. @xtb3 – Bidwells? What’ does the Redskins’ punter have to do with this article or the Matson trade?

    BTW, as I Cardinal fan I saw the team let two guys go who got contracts that were well outside their worth, and their replacements had much better years.

    Warner retired, nothing you can do about that and Boldin was a cancer with the coaches and owners… His trade brought the Cards Rhodes and let them draft Daryl Washington. Not a bad deal.

  7. @redbirdrising

    yeah right! i just imagined rolle, dansby, boldin, etc., etc.

    and did NOT replace the payroll! keep drinking the koolaid.

  8. @xtb3 –
    Rolle accepted a very similar offer with the Giants making him the highest paid safety in the NFL. As a Cardinals fan, I can say that was an absolute joke. He’s very poor in coverage, which is what a Free safety needs to be strong at. Rhodes was an instant upgrade at 1/2 the salary.

    Dansby was replaced by Paris Lenon who also had a better year statistically. Dansby did not upgrade what was already a weak Dolphin’s D. He’s good, just not great. And not worth the “Highest Paid” label which the Cardinals also tried to match.

    Sure they didn’t replace the payroll. They lost 4 high paid players, but due to the uncapped year restrictions on free agents, there weren’t a lot of high dollar guys out there. So should the cards have spent money just to spend money? No, and the guys they brought in were better than their replacements, Rhodes and Paris were the best defenders on the team, it’s the guys who were already here that tanked (DRC, Dockett, Wilson, Campbell).

    BTW, The Cards DO still have Wilson, Dockett, Fitz.. guys who “Took Them” to the super bowl, so they didn’t just dump all their salary, in fact they franchised Dansby Twice before last year, and couldn’t this year else they would have paid out 14m for a non-pro bowl middle linebacker. Insanity.

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