Thursday, March 11, 2010

Merlin Olsen dies at 69

Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen, who helped form one of the NFL's greatest defensive lines before embarking on a successful career in television, died Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was 69.

Olsen came out of Utah State in 1962 as the seventh overall pick in the NFL draft, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive tackle who was an athlete first in an era when most players his size were simply big bodies picked to stuff the middle and stop the run.

Olsen was the model professional football player, and that included off the field. He was tough, smart, physical, durable, consistent and relentless. He didn’t take plays off and was always trying to improve. He didn’t need coaches to critique his performance. He was his own toughest critic.

"He was way ahead of his time,'' said Gil Brandt, who in those days was in the first decade of a 30-year career as personnel director of the Dallas Cowboys.

"He was strong, he was fast, he was like the athlete of today back in 1962. He was as good as I've ever seen at that position. If there's someone better, I don't know who it is.''

Merlin Olsen was one of the greatest and most respected players, and people, in N.F.L. history. He would have been, and later was, successful in any field he had pursued. Lucky for us, he chose pro football.

Olsen was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year. He had been undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

“No PlAcE LiKe www.pericardial-mesothelioma-symptoms.Co.CC”

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