Sunday, June 8, 2014

Merlin

When you're looking for extraordinary depth of character, the NFL doesn't immediately come to mind as a producer of such.  From the Los Angeles Rams, though, there have been some exceptional men.

Merlin Olsen was an impressive fellow.  A Pro Football Hall of Fame member, he had a reputation for being a good hearted fellow on and off the field.  Rosey Grier spoke well of him, having become close friends during their years together, and he wept when Olsen died.  "I loved that man," he said. "I really loved him."

Olsen, along with Rosey Grier, Deacon Jones, and Lamar Lundy were the Los Angeles Rams "Fearsome Foursome" who dominated the league for fifteen years.  Olsen was elected to play in 14 consecutive pro-bowls beginning with his rookie season in 1982.  The foursome were close friends for life.

After retiring from football, Olsen was a football commentator for NBC and became an actor as well.  He starred with Michael Landon in Little House on the Prairie and later as Father Murphy, both of which were quite popular.  And wholesome.

"Merlin was always doing good work to help other people have a meaningful life," said Grier, who was told of Olsen's death by Elizabeth Jones, Deacon's wife. "He was always there for you, no matter what."  He was known to be intimately involved in charitable works, and hosted telethons for the benefit of those in need.  

He lived deliberately and even had a written mission statement which was made public by his family after he passed away.

*The focus of my life begins at home with family, loved ones and friends. I want to use my resources to create a secure environment that fosters love, learning, laughter and mutual success.
... on the wall at Olsen's alma mater.
*I will protect and value integrity.
*I will admit and quickly correct my mistakes.
*I will be a self-starter.
*I will be a caring person.
*I will be a good listener with an open mind.
*I will continue to grow and learn.
*I will facilitate and celebrate the success of others.
All in all, an extraordinary gentleman who lived his convictions; perhaps an encouraging example for us all.
The world has changed since Olsen's generation.  I wonder how he might have formed his personal mission now that the world is so interconnected.  What we do here, good or bad, affects them all.  Would he have enlarged his view a bit, expanded his goal to include the larger community of humanity?  I expect so, he was a good guy; we could use more like him.

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