Fast Facts

  • Won the Outland Trophy for the nation's best interior lineman at Utah State in 1961.
  • Graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Utah State.
  • Was a first-round draft pick (third overall) in 1962 by the Los Angeles Rams.
  • With Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier, made up the Fearsome Foursome, one of the NFL's all-time great defensive lines.
  • Played together with his brother Phil on the Rams from 1971 to '74.
  • Named to 14 consecutive Pro Bowls, beginning in his rookie season. Also named NFL MVP in 1974 by the Maxwell Club.
  • Earned his masters in economics from Utah State while playing for the Rams.
  • Retired from the NFL in 1976, signing on with NBC the following year to work as a broadcaster opposite Dick Enberg.
  • Joined Little House on the Prairie in 1977 as Michael Landon's new sidekick Jonathan Garvey.
  • Starred in his own series, Father Murphy, in 1981.
  • Named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.
  • Was commercial spokesman for FTD Florists.
  • In 2009, Utah State's football field was named in his honor, Merlin Olsen Field.
  • Diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2009, he sued NBC and other companies for allowing him to be exposed to asbestos. He succumbed to the disease in 2010.


  • Winona Barrett — Sister
  • Lynn Jay Olsen — Father
  • Nathan Olsen — Son
  • Lorraine Elzinga — Sister
  • Merle Olsen — Mother
  • Gwen Saltern — Sister
  • Ramona Whitaker — Sister
  • Jill — Daughter
  • Phil Olsen — Brother
  • Colleen Davis — Sister
  • Susan Wakely — Wife
  • Orrin Olsen — Brother
  • Hans Olsen — Nephew
  • Kelly — Daughter
  • Clark Olsen — Brother


  • Utah State University, Logan, Utah, United States (BA in Economics, 1962; MA in Economics, 1970)


  • Birth Name: Merlin Jay Olsen
  • Birth Place: Logan, Utah, United States
  • Died: March 11, 2010
  • Profession: Football player, Actor

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