December 16, 2011

MVP Profile: Merlin Olsen, 1974

Defensive Tackle, Los Angeles Rams

Age: 34 (Sept. 15)
13th season in pro football & with Rams
College: Utah State
Height: 6’5” Weight: 270

Winner of the Outland Trophy as the best college lineman, Olsen was chosen in the first round of the 1962 NFL draft by the Rams (third overall) and moved into the starting lineup by the third game of his rookie season. With his size complemented by speed, agility, and intelligence, he became an immediate impact player and was named to the first of a record 14 consecutive Pro Bowls. He was a consensus first-team All-Pro selection as well for five consecutive years (1966 to ’70) and was particularly dominant during the George Allen head coaching era as part of the “Fearsome Foursome” that included ends Deacon Jones and Lamar Lundy and, first, Rosey Grier and then Roger Brown at tackle.

1974 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 14 games
(Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20)

Sacks – N/A
Interceptions – 0
Fumble recoveries – 0

Postseason: 2 G
Sacks – 0.5 (unofficial)
Most sacks, game – 0.5 vs. Washington, NFC Divisional playoff
Interceptions – 0
TD – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL Player of the Year: Bert Bell Award
2nd team All-NFL: PFWA
2nd team All-NFC: UPI
Pro Bowl

Rams went 10-4 to finish first in the NFC West while leading the NFL in defense against the run (1302 yards / 93.0 per game / 4 TDs) and giving up the fewest points (181) and the NFC in sacks (44). Won NFC Divisional playoff over Washington Redskins (19-10). Lost NFC Championship to Minnesota Vikings (14-10).

Olsen played another two years, for a total of 15, and only missed the Pro Bowl in his final season of 1976 before retiring to a career as a broadcaster and actor. His #74 was retired by the Rams and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1982.


MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).