And Now, Starting At Defensive Tackle...
Growing up in Los Angeles, if you loved football, you followed the Rams. For me this meant the teams that had Roman Gabriel at quarterback.
But those of us who faithfully listened to the action on radio, watched on television, or were lucky enough to see a game live always understood who the real stars were.
In spite of an offense that included the afore mentioned Gabriel and others like Dick Bass, Bob Klein, Les Josephson, and Jack Snow, the defense carried the day for the old Los Angeles Rams.
Starting with the Fearsome Foursome and leading one day to some of the best defenses to play the game, the Rams fortunes rose and fell on their ability to stuff the other teams offense.
Today, one of the greats in Rams history died. Merlin Olsen passed away early this morning at age 69. Merlin was an original member of the Fearsome Foursome that terrorized opposing offenses for years.
The Purple People Eaters of Minnesota? The Steel Curtain of Pittsburgh? The Killer Bees? Orange Crush? Every one of those great defenses owe a special debt of gratitude to Merlin Olsen, Lamar Lundy, Deacon Jones, and Rosey Grier.
Those four guys, playing a brutal game with reckless abandon in the 1960’s gave rise to the idea that you could win games with a stifling defense. And be famous doing it
Were it not for people like Merlin Olsen, there would be no Ray Lewis. no Reggie White, no LT.
While Merlin went on to be a great broadcaster, and found some fame as an actor on shows like “Little House on the Prairie” and “Father Murphy,” he will always be known best to us Angelenos as number 74, starting at defensive tackle, 14 time Pro Bowl player, Merlin Olsen.
You will be missed.