Greatest sports figures in L.A. history, No. 15: Merlin Olsen


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Continuing our countdown of the 20 greatest figures in L.A. sports history with No. 15, Merlin Olsen.

No. 15 Merlin Olsen (no first-place votes, 808 points).


Those of you who remember Merlin Olsen only as Jonathan Garvey on ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ the star of ‘Father Murphy’ or as one of the premier NFL TV analysts of all time, aren’t getting the whole picture.

A member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Olsen played defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams for 15 seasons. And he was elected to the Pro Bowl in 14 of his 15 seasons. Ten times he was selected a first- or second-team All-Pro. Merlin came to the Rams as one of their two first-round draft choices in 1962.

Olsen was also a member of one of the most famous front fours ever, the “Fearsome Foursome” of Olsen, Deacon Jones, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy. Olsen was the stabilizer in the middle that allowed the others to tee off on quarterbacks.

Olsen missed only two games in his 15-year career. He was ranked No. 25 on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

Olsen died at age 69 on March 11, 2010 but left a lasting legacy in three fields. He is the only member of the Rams to make the top 20 in our countdown.


No. 16 Jerry Buss


No. 17: Elgin Baylor

No. 18: Marcus Allen

No. 19: Jim Murray

No. 20: Wilt Chamberlain

Your votes are in: The 20 greatest sports figures in L.A. history

--Houston Mitchell