Friday, March 12, 2010

Merlin Olsen (1940-2010)

One of the true gentle giants of sports is gone. Merlin Olsen, defensive lineman for the Los Angeles Rams, broadcaster for NBC (and briefly for CBS), actor (Little House on the Prairie and Father Murphy) and FTD pitchman, died of mesothelioma at the age of 69.

My best memories of Olsen is as a broadcaster where, with Dick Enberg, he formed the best play-by-play duo I've heard (yes, with all due respect to Pat Summerall and John Madden). They were smooth, exciting, and informative. They brought the AFC to life for me on NBC during the key years that made me want to be in that business.

Here's a nice article from Sports Illustrated's vault, dated January 19, 1981 (thanks to Richard Dietsch's Twitter page)

Some video: Olsen helps Curt Gowdy open a 1988 Steelers/Redskins broadcast.

Enberg and Olsen open NBC's coverage of the 1988 Rose Bowl

Lastly, though he's barely featured here, Olsen was part of the call of Super Bowl XVII. I love the old graphics, the quality of the video, and the old Dolphins uniforms.

I still have Enberg and Olsen calling the Jets and Steelers from December 10, 1983. Anybody want to help me transfer it from the VHS tape?

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