Merlin Olsen, NFL Hall of Famer, Dies at 69

Merlin Olsen, who was part of Los Angeles Rams‘ “Fearsome Foursome” in the 1960’s, has succumbed to a rare form of cancer on Thursday. He was 69. Olsen, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982, was inflicted by mesothelioma, a type cancer that almost always develops from exposure to asbestos.

Olsen, who retired in 1976, appeared in the Pro Bowl from his rookie season in 1962 until 1975, a record that he shares with Bruce Matthews. He was the 1962 Rookie of the Year, 1968 Pro Bowl MVP, and 1974 NFL MVP. He holds the Rams team record for tackles with 915. A popular player during his playing days, Olsen transitioned to television when his NFL career was over.

He became a sports commentator, commercial model, and star of the television series “Little House on the Prairie,” which aired from 1977 to 1981. Rams general manager Billy Devaney said Olsen’s death “is a tremendous loss” for the team. “He will always be remembered as an ambassador for the organization as well as the National Football League.”