Today is a sad day for Rams Nation, as legendary Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen has passed away at the age of 69. Olsen was diagnosed last year with malignant mesothelioma, and he passed on Thursday morning due to complications related to that illness. Olsen was a man who possessed multiple talents, but none shone brighter during his life than his ability on the field. He was chosen by the Rams as the third pick in the 1962 draft out of Utah State, and he decided to sign with the team after weighing an offer from the Denver Broncos of the AFL as well. Olsen was a force from the first day he stepped on the NFL field, as he managed to win the Rookie of the Year and make the Pro Bowl in his first season. Olsen would go on to make 14 Pro Bowls in his 15 years in the league, all of which were spent with the Rams, and he was also voted as an All-Pro ten of those seasons. He was named to the All-Decade team for the 1960’s and 1970’s, and he was enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame on August 7, 1982. Olsen was also voted as the 25th greatest player in NFL history by Sports Illustrated in 1999. Needless to say, Merlin Olsen’s influence on the Rams organization is impossible to put into words here on this blog.
Olsen’s influence extended long after he was done on the field, as he enjoyed a successful television career after his retirement in 1976. He served as a color commentator alongside Dick Enberg for NBC’s AFC football coverage throughout the 1980’s, and he also spent time acting on the television shows Little House on the Prairie and Father Murphy, just to name a few. He was given the Walter Camp Man of the Year award in 1982, and he was also named Athlete of the Century for the state of Utah.
Merlin Olsen was a proud member of Rams Nation, and our organization lost someone very special today. It would take all night to list all of his accomplishments, both on and off the field, but I hope this gives at least a little insight for some of our younger fans into how great he really was. He will never be forgotten by anyone who saw him play, or by anyone whose life was touched by this man. Rams fans should take some time to either remember Olsen or learn more about him over the next few days, because he deserves it. RIP Merlin Olsen 1940-2010.