I don't know how many readers here at Turf Show Times remember Merlin Olsen's playing days. His last season in the league was 1976. That's the year I was born, so needless to say I didn't see any of Olsen's games.
I don't think you can overstate what he brought to the game. You didn't even need to see him play to know that...though I think you'd have a much better appreciation for him if you had seen him play. At least now it's easy to access video of his playing time on demand.
Gil Brandt called Olsen the greatest defensive tackle ever, the prototype for the modern incarnation.
I got turned on to Olsen through his acting work. No, he was never an Academy Award winning type actor, but he was sincere enough to be a presence on the screen in whatever role he played. Yes, there was the Little House on the Prairie role, but I remember Olsen from three B Westerns he did, having caught them on Saturday afternoon reruns. The most memorable of which was The Undefeated, one of John Wayne's late career stinkers. Just because it wasn't the Searchers though doesn't mean it wasn't entertaining. It's also worth noting that The Undefeated, Olsen's first acting role of note, also featured Roman Gabriel. Playing in LA had its advantages.
RIP Merlin Olsen.