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Merlin Olsen Biography

Outland Trophy Winner, "fearsome Foursome", Transition To Broadcasting, Acting, Chronology, Olsen Legacy


American football player

He excelled at the toughest of positions in the roughest of sports and was part of a unit called the "Fearsome Foursome," yet Merlin Olsen played a gentlemanly priest on television and so visibly endorsed flowers, people named him the "Flower Man." He worked five Super Bowls as part of a broadcast team one critic called "whole-some." And when he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after fifteen years at defensive tackle, Merlin Olsen was credited for his cerebral approach to the game.

"It was Olsen's career-long quest to master the intellectual side of football, and he achieved his goal during a marvelous 15-year career," Anthony Holden wrote in CBS Sports Line.com. "The key to consistency of performance is concentration," Olsen once said. "I probably held my ability to concentrate over a longer period of time than some athletes. Each game, at the beginning of each play, I thought of it as the most important play of the year. I went into every play as if the game depended on it."

Olsen missed just two games in twenty-two years of scholastic, college and National Football League (NFL) ball, and played his last 198 consecutive games. He qualified for the Pro Bowl, the NFL's all-star game for fourteen straight seasons. "Going to the Pro Bowl 14 times adds up to an entire season of play," Olsen said.

After ending his career with his only pro team, the Los Angeles (now St. Louis) Rams, after the 1976 season, Olsen embarked on a broadcasting and acting career

Merlin Olsen

which including working National Football games with Dick Enberg on NBC and appearing on such popular television shows as "Little House on the Prairie" and "Father Murphy."

Sketch by Paul Burton

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsFootball