Sports Outside the Beltway

Former NFL MVP Merlin Olsen dead at 69

The 1974 League MVP was a great player and not a shabby actor either. RIP.

Merlin Olsen, a Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman who was part of the Los Angeles Rams’ “Fearsome Foursome” line of the 1960s, has died after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 69.Merlin Olsen

Olsen, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year and had been undergoing chemotherapy, died Wednesday night, Utah State assistant athletic media relations director Zach Fisher said.

The burley giant from northern Utah joined Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier on the Rams’ storied “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line known for either stopping or knocking backward whatever offenses it faced. The Rams set an NFL record for the fewest yards allowed during a 14-game season in 1968.

Olsen was rookie of the year for the Rams in 1962 and is still the Rams’ all-time leader in career tackles with 915. He was named to 14 consecutive Pro Bowls, a string that started his rookie year, and was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.

Olsen was also an established television actor with a role on “Little House on the Prairie,” then starring in his own series, “Father Murphy,” from 1981 to 1983 and the short-lived “Aaron’s Way” in 1988.

Olsen was a consensus All-American at Utah State and won the 1961 Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman. The Rams drafted Olsen third overall in 1962 and he spent the next 15 years with the team before retiring in 1976.

Utah State honored Olsen in December by naming the football field at Romney Stadium “Merlin Olsen Field.” Because of his illness, Olsen’s alma mater didn’t want to wait until football season and made the announcement during halftime of a basketball game.


Former NFL Player Mosi Tatupu dead at 54

His son Lofa is currently a NFL linebacker. Very sad and RIP.

Mosi Tatupu (MOE’-see tah-TOO’-poo), a fan favorite who played 13 seasons for the New England Patriots, has died. He was 54.Mosi Tatupu

Ashley O’Brien, a spokeswoman for Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, Mass., said Tatupu was pronounced dead at the hospital Tuesday. She did not give a cause.

Tatupu was chosen by the Patriots in the eighth round of the 1978 draft out of Southern California. He stayed with the team until 1990.

The running back rushed for 2,415 yards and 18 touchdowns. He was better known for his special teams play.

Tatupu had his own cheering section known as “Mosi’s Mooses.”

He coached his son, Lofa, now a linebacker with the Seattle Seahawks, at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham.


New Orleans Saints waive K John Carney

Is the 45-year-old’s NFL career at an end? From ESPN-

The New Orleans Saints apparently won’t carry two kickers into the playoffs, as they’ve done for much of this year. The team announced Tuesday afternoon it has cut veteran kicker John Carney.

That’s a sign they’re committed to sticking with Garrett Hartley, who reclaimed the kicking job for the 12th game of the season. Hartley had been suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy by taking a stimulant that he said was to keep him awake during a long drive.

Carney, 45 and a 21-year NFL veteran, was signed by the Saints when they became aware of Hartley’s suspension. Carney handled kicking duties in the first 11 games. He made 13-of-17 field goals and 50-of-52 extra points. Carney also played with the Saints from 2001 through 2006 and is the second-leading scorer in franchise history with 750 points.

New Orleans isn’t the only team to change placekickers this week. The Dallas Cowboys cut Nick Folk yesterday.

IMHO Carney’s kicking was sub par this year.(76.5 success rate on Field Goals compared to a career average of 82.4) That and in the light of his age and nomadic last few years(4 teams in less than 3 years), I do think his career is indeed over. I also think he will elected to the NFL Hall of Fame sometime in the future. Carney was one of the NFL’s elite kickers for 20 years.


Former Notre Dame and NFL football player Jack Zilly dead at 88

He was also an assistant college football coach after his playing days were over. RIP.

John “Jack” Zilly, who played on two national championship football teams for Notre Dame in the 1940s, has died. He was 88.

The school said Saturday that Zilly died Friday in Narragansett, R.I.

Zilly was a right end on Notre Dame’s 1943 championship team. He then joined the Navy and served two years in the Pacific during World War II. He returned to school and celebrated another national title in 1946.

Zilly was a sixth-round draft pick by San Francisco of the All-American Football Conference. He wound up playing for the Los Angeles Rams from 1947 to 1951 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 1952.


Former Los Angeles Ram RB Cullen Bryant dead at 58

He scored a touchdown in Super Bowl XIV and was instrumental in causing the NFL to make a major policy change. RIP.

LOS ANGELES — Cullen Bryant, who spent 11 seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, was a running back on their 1980 Super Bowl team and fought the NFL’s trading rules to remain in town, has died. He was 58.

Unknown to his family, Bryant had been under a doctor’s care when he died Tuesday at his home in Colorado Springs, Colo., said his sister-in-law, Wanda E. Bryant. She did not supply other details.

Bryant was the Rams’ second-round draft pick in 1973. He played with the team until 1982, was with the Seattle Seahawks in 1983 and 1984 and returned to the Rams for his last pro season in 1987.

In 13 NFL seasons, Bryant scored 23 rushing and receiving touchdowns and ran back kickoffs for three others. He ran for 3,264 yards in 849 carries, and caught 148 passes for 1,176 yards.

He ran for a 1-yard touchdown in the 1980 Super Bowl, which the Rams lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-19.

At 6-foot-1 and 234 pounds, he was the biggest player of the time to regularly return kickoffs.

“When Cullen hits those holes, nobody wants to stick their nose in there,” teammate Jack Youngblood told the Los Angeles Times in 1979. “Those little 180-pound (defensive backs) just jump on his back when he runs by.”

“He was an outstanding person with great character traits,” said Chuck Knox, Bryant’s coach with both the Rams and Seahawks. “When we asked him to do certain things, he’d do them. He never complained about anything. When he got that big body moving, it was something else, and he had muscles on top of muscles.”

Born William Cullen Bryant on May 20, 1951, in Fort Sill, Okla., Bryant attended high school in Colorado Springs and played football at Colorado University, where he received consensus All-American recognition.

In 1975, only two years after going to the Rams, Bryant went to federal court to challenge the right of then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to order him off the team. The Rams had signed former Detroit Lions receiver Ron Jessie. Under the “Rozelle Rule” on free agents, the team signing a free agent had to compensate the team that lost the player. If the teams couldn’t agree on compensation, the commissioner had the power to award either draft choices or players. He decided Bryant should go to Detroit.

At the behest of Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, Bryant went to court in Los Angeles. A judge was unsympathetic to the NFL’s position during a hearing, and the league backed off several days later before a ruling could be made.

The Rozelle Rule eventually was modified.


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