Merlin Olsen, a 14-time Pro Bowler and former lead NFL analyst for NBC Sports, passed away Wednesday night at the age of 69.
Olsen worked with Dick Enberg on the top NBC on NFL team from 1978-1988, and the pair called the Rose Bowl from 1980-88. He also worked with Curt Gowdy, Jim Simpson and Charlie Jones during his NBC days (1977-89).
Olsen jumped to CBS in 1990 and worked with Dick Stockton, Sean McDonough and Brad Nessler for two seasons.
The Enberg-Olsen pair was remarkable. Olsen was very knowledgable about the game but was never over-stated or prone to hype.
For many Americans, however, Olsen will be remembered as a commercial spokesman for FTD Florists, and as the character Jonathan Garvey on “Little House on the Prairie.”
Olsen passed away from mesothelioma. He was diagnosed last year, and in January he filed a lawsuit against NBC Studios, NBC Universal and 20th Century Fox for exposing him to asbestos.
Olsen was voted to the California Sports Hall of Fame for 2010. The football field at his alma mater, Utah State, is going to be named in his honor in the fall.