One of Olsen’s more famous endorsements was pushing flowers for FTD. Fittingly, there’s no shortage of admirers eager to toss him a “Merlin Olsen bouquet.” It’s a reciprocal deal, apparently. “The thing about him that I find remarkable is never once have I ever heard him say a negative word about anybody, in any circumstance,” Rosenbloom said. “I just remember having a lot of admiration and respect for him, because he was a unique guy on the team, just the kind of person he is … gentle and wonderful, and treated everybody so well.”
Described by Enberg as “a 280-pound Care package,” Olsen is known for being more concerned about others than himself.
“Even in the face of this (illness), he’s asking people how they’re doing,” Rosenbloom marveled. “I hope they find something that works. He’s one of a kind.”
That discovery was made long ago in Logan, and that’s why USU is so proud to claim him.
“How he’s represented Utah State has been phenomenal,” Barnes said.
Albrecht recalled how as a member of the USU Foundation Board, Olsen was not satisfied with reaching the initial fund-raising goal of $200 million. Once that figure was achieved, Olsen said, “We’re not going to stop here. We’re going to go on.”
When he once spoke at USU’s Founders Day observance, Olsen said, “The real test doesn’t come when we are doing well, but when we have been knocked down and stepped on a few times, then get right back up and go on with our lives.”
So Olsen is determined to press on now, even while dealing with an opponent more aggressive and insidious than Conrad Dobler or any of the other NFL offensive linemen who challenged him in his prime.
In his letter to Olsen, Enberg wrote, “In my mind, you’ll always be that ‘mountain of a man.’”
Olsen will be viewed similarly in Logan, with the naming of the Aggies’ football field and the statue being sculpted in his honor.
“We don’t think there’s anybody more deserving of this distinction,” Albrecht said, citing how admirably Olsen has “carried the banner” for USU for more than half a century.
The statue, to be unveiled during the football season, is described as “larger-than-life-sized.” Even then, it will not fully capture Olsen’s aura in his hometown and on the campus where he excelled athletically and academically.
Kurt Kragthorpe writes a regular sports column for The Salt Lake Tribune.
To view the Merlin Olsen Field announcement see:
Utah State University’s announcement that the field at Romney Stadium will henceforth be known as Merlin Olsen Field has been met with a ground swell of enthusiasm, both in Logan and across the nation. Efforts are underway to further enhance and preserve Olsen’s legacy through The Merlin Olsen Field Campaign, created to achieve three specific objectives in Aggie Athletics. You can find out more about Olsen and how you can join his former teammates, friends and fans in further honoring the Aggie great by visiting http://www.utahstateaggies.com/merlinolsencampaign.html.
Words of a Legend
Just a couple of hours before USU’s most highly regarded and famous son made his way to center court during the St. Mary’s vs. Utah State basketball game on Dec. 5 — before students in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum spontaneously chanted “Mer-lin Ol-sen, Mer-lin Ol-sen” and then “Agg-ie Le-gend, Agg-ie Le-gend” — Olsen attended a celebratory dinner at the Jim and Carol Laub Athletics-Academic Complex with family and friends. USU President Stan Albrecht and Athletics Director Scott Barnes offered tributes to the man they said has carried the Aggie banner like none other, and then the lights were raised inside adjacent Romney Stadium, illuminating the snowy field that, henceforth, will be known as Merlin Olsen Field. Read the complete story>>>
This article originally appeared in the Utah State magazine (Vol. 15, No. 4. Winter 2010). Reprinted with permission.
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