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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 12, 2010

Ex-NFL, TV star Olsen dies of cancer

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Merlin Olsen, a Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman, played Jonathan Garvey on the TV series "Little House on the Prairie."

NFL PHOTOS | 1981 Pro Bowl

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Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen, who helped form one of the NFL's greatest defensive lines before embarking on a successful career in television, died yesterday after a battle with cancer. He was 69.

Olsen was a member of the Los Angeles Rams' "Fearsome Foursome" along with Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier in the 1960s. He later starred on NFL broadcasts, commercials, and as Jonathan Garvey on the TV series "Little House on the Prairie."

"He was ferocious and fearless on the football field and then the other probably more important aspect of his personality was he was a true gentleman," said fellow Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood, his teammate with the Rams in Los Angeles. "We all know what a wonderful, tremendous football player he was, but he was so much more than that."

Utah State, Olsen's alma mater, said he died at City of Hope hospital in Duarte, just east of Los Angeles. He was diagnosed last year with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung lining often linked to asbestos.

"He cared deeply about people, especially those that shared the game of football with him," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. "Merlin was a larger-than-life person, literally and figuratively, and leaves an enormously positive legacy."



The Minnesota Vikings wined and dined LaDainian Tomlinson Wednesday night, then spent yesterday meeting with the star running back in hopes of pairing him with Adrian Peterson in their backfield.

Tomlinson emerged from Vikings headquarters in Eden Prairie last night with a purple Vikings jersey in hand, but declined to comment to reporters before his limo drove away. Several people with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press that the two sides had yet to reach a deal and Tomlinson was headed to the New York Jets for a visit today. Those people spoke anonymously because talks are ongoing with Tomlinson.

With the Jets, Tomlinson would back up Shonn Greene, who emerged in his rookie season.


New England Patriots running back Kevin Faulk didn't want to go out like Nomar Garciaparra.

Watching the former Boston Red Sox All-Star shortstop retire on Wednesday helped convince Faulk that he wanted to spend his entire career with the Patriots. So Faulk re-signed with the Patriots, the team that made him a second-round draft choice in 1999 and the only team he's ever played for. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.



Five birdies were enough to put Charl Schwartzel among the leaders at the CA Championship. No mistakes is what put him in the lead alone yesterday on a rough-and-tumble day at Doral, Fla.

Schwartzel, who got into the elite field with two victories in his native South Africa at the start of the season, managed to get around the TPC Blue Monster without a bogey on his way to a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead over Ernie Els, Robert Allenby and Vijay Singh in the World Golf Championship event.

Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who was in Houston last week while his wife was treated for breast cancer and did not arrive until Wednesday night, opened with a 71.


Defending champion Laura Davies shot a 5-under 68 to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Women's Australian Open at Melbourne.

The 46-year-old English star had six birdies and a bogey at the Commonwealth layout where fewer than 25 golfers in the 150-woman field broke par yesterday.

Yang Soo-jin, Giulia Sergas, Jenni Kuosa, Felicity Johnson, Rebecca Flood and amateur Alison Whitaker were tied for second at 70.



Brandon Roy scored 41 points, Andre Miller added 15 points and seven assists and the Portland Trail Blazers overcame a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Golden State Warriors, 110-105, last night in Oakland, Calif.

Rudy Fernandez added 12 points including a pair of pivotal 3-pointers during a late 17-3 run by the Blazers, who took the lead for good, 103-102 on a free throw by LaMarcus Aldridge with 3:24 left to play.



American Mardy Fish, the BNP Paribas Open runner-up in 2008, beat Michael Berrer of Germany, 1-6, 6-1, 6-3, in a first-round match yesterday at the Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.

Fish, 28, sidelined most of the second half of last season due to a fractured rib and left knee surgery, will face No. 2 Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who won that 2008 final in three sets and is 3-0 against him.