Monday, October 29, 2007

This past Saturday, I went to a concert where Sugar Ray was the featured performer for a "100 Day Countdown to the Super Bowl." I thought Mark McGrath and the boys were pretty good. They did lots of different sampling.

The highlight of the experience was a gathering of Hall of Fame football stars who gave out free autographs. There was Larry Wilson, Tony Dorsett, Seth Joyner, Earl Edwards (who I played golf with about 12 years ago), and the one man who I stood an hour in line to speak with and sign my Super Bowl hat. Elected to the HOF in 1982, from the Los Angeles Rams, one-fourth of the famed "Fearsome Foursome", #74, Merlin Olsen.

I had time to ask Mr. Olsen (yes, that's how I addressed him) one question and since broadcasting has always been in my blood, I wanted to know, "Why did you leave the broadcast booth?" His answer, "I got tired of living out of a suitcase." Not the greatest question in the world, but it was something I wanted to know and never read about, considering he left at the height of his broadcasting career.

Olsen, along with his NBC play-by-play partner Dick Enberg, formed the best team to broadcast NFL football in the 1980s. His soft-spoken, insightful comments are in stark contrast to John Madden and other analysts of today.

I also mentioned how I had a Rams-logo shower rug for 40 years that I recently was forced to permanently retire. Olsen seemed slightly amused. Before I left the area, he reached across the table and we shook hands again, the same as we had when I first approached his table.

This was a day I will long remember with great fondness. I met one of my sports heroes and he was every bit as nice as I could have hoped.