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Merlin Olsen, Rams Legend, Dead at 69

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Merlin Olsen, Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle and part of the "Fearsome Foursome" defensive line during the 1960s and 1970s, passed away yesterday at the age of 69 his brother Orrin announced. Olsen was diagnosed with mesothelioma, cancer of the lung lining, last year and had undergone three courses of chemotheraphy.

A Utah native, Olsen was a two-time All American at Utah State where he helped lead the Aggies rise to national prominence. He won the 1961 Outland Trophy which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college football as voted Football Writers Association of America.

After graduation he was drafted by both the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL and the Denver Broncos of the AFL in 1962. He chose for the security of the NFL and helped cement a defensive line along with Deacon Jones, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy that would propel the Rams to the top of the NFL. The line was ultimately broken up and Olsen teamed with defensive end Jack Youngblood that would see the Rams eventually get to the NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings in the 1976 season.

Olsen would retire after that game and go into the broadcast booth teaming with Dick Enberg at NBC to call AFC games. The two would also call the Rose Bowl from 1980 to 1988.

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Mainstream America will probably know Olsen best for starring in "Little House on the Prairie" where he played Michael Landen's sidekick Jonathan Garvey.

Olsen was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection making it every season except his last. He was also a six time First-Team All Pro selection and three time Second-Team All Pro. Post playing career Olsen was selected as part of the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team, 1970s All-Decade Team and the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1994. But the highlight was in 1982 when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Although St. Louis might have taken the Rams, nothing can take away what Olsen did for football here in Los Angeles.