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  1. #1

    Default Merlin Olsen - NFL Great - Dead at 69

    Remembering Merlin Olsen, the Football Player

    By ANDY BARALL Andy Barall writes about pro football history for the Fifth Down. Merlin Olsen died of cancer at age 69 on Thursday.
    At 6 feet 5 inches tall and 270 pounds, Merlin Olsen possessed tremendous natural size and strength. Unlike today’s players, he never lifted weights. He got bigger as a young man by, as he told Paul Zimmerman for “The New Thinking Man’s Guide to Pro Football,” “hefting hod and bucking bales of hay.” He added, “I also worked as a ranger in Yellowstone Park until visitors began mistaking me for a bear.”
    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.
    The original Fearsome Foursome – Olsen, Deacon Jones, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy – helped popularize defensive football in the mid-1960’s (Grier was replaced by Roger Brown in 1967). Before the late 1950s, almost all of the N.F.L.’s biggest stars played offense. Many teams never even introduced their defensive players before the game. That started to change with Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli, Grier himself, and the success of the Giants in the late 50s and early 60s. It really took off in Los Angeles a few years later. The Fearsome Foursome were colorful characters who played with style and flair. Hollywood loved them.

    At left tackle in the standard 4-3 defense, Olsen could always anchor-in against the run, both at the point of attack and in the gaps, especially to his left. Offenses frequently tried to take advantage of the quick upfield rush of Jones, the left defensive end, by running up inside him. Olsen was usually there to cover and fill.
    In the 1960s, after running the power sweep a few times, the offense, at a key point in the game, would usually try the sucker play: pulling the guard and expecting the defensive tackle to follow while the running back found the vacated area. Against Olsen, he usually read the play immediately or recovered so quickly that it didn’t work. He was too smart, and had done too much preparation, to be fooled.
    Early in his career, Olsen was a devastating pass-rusher. His favorite move was the basic bull-rush. He would pound and pound on a usually smaller guard, then supplement it with an additional tactic not available to today’s pass rushers: the head-slap. I even remember him occasionally using the double head-slap. Once the guard was softened up, Olsen would run a stunt to force that guard to block the unbelievably quick and fast Deacon Jones. Olsen and Jones embarrassed many an offensive lineman in the 1960s.
    Most people know about the Fearsome Foursome, but Olsen also played on a great defensive line at the end of his career. Starting in 1973, he teamed with defensive ends Jack Youngblood and Fred Dryer and the underrated tackle Larry Brooks to form one of the N.F.L.’s best fronts for Chuck Knox’s Rams. At that point in his career, Olsen was more of a stay-at-home guy reading for draws and screens, and covering for the pass-rushers.
    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.

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  2. #2


    RIP merlin
    If you find yourself slipping,.....tie a knot.....hold on tight

    2008 silverado
    1500 crew cab
    5.3 L 4x4
    Borla exhaust, rbp black tip
    tint, bed liner
    2.25 in ready lift leveling kit
    18x9 rbp 94r
    33x12.5x18 toyo mts

  3. #3
    Legend mmorgan1865's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Port Orange, Florida


    One of the all time greats when it was really football.
    2010 Silverado Ext. Cab LTZ 2 WD 6 ft bed
    5.3L 6 speed w\ 3.08 rear end
    Navigation Package
    Westin lighted boards
    Undercover SE tonneau cover
    It's a start!

  4. #4
    Master Mechanic bigdaddy77084's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Houston, Texas, United States


    Man that bites...69 aint that old...
    95 tahoe 2dr 4x4 200,000+ miles

  5. #5


    Yeah, I was just thinking that my dad turned 70 this year.

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