Ollie Matson, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, dies at the age of 80 due to respiratory failure
Ollie Matson passed away on Saturday from respiratory failure at his residence in Los Angeles, California. The 80-year-old Matson is remembered for being a Hall of Fame runningback and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972 along with names
such as Lamar Hunt, Gino Marchetti and Ace Parker.
Matson had been confined to his bed for several years before his death due to a form of dementia, which is basically the weakening of the brain that is not a result of normal aging. It reduces the ones ability to utilize memory, reason and learning. Matson
had not been able to speak for the past four years.
Ollie Genoa Matson II was born on May 1, 1930 in Trinity, Texas, before moving to San Francisco when he was in high school. After finishing his high school career at George Washington High School, he developed into one of the county’s best athletes.
Matson attended the City College of San Francisco before he transferred to the University of San Francisco. In his senior year at the university, he had the most rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in the entire nation and led the University of San Francisco
Dons to an undefeated season. He was in ninth place in the run for the Heisman Trophy and was chosen as an All-American.
He entered the National Football League (NFL) through the 1952 NFL Draft and was selected in the first round, overall pick number three, by the Chicago Cardinals, now known as the Arizona Cardinals. He won the Rookie of the Year award along with San Francisco
49ers running back Hugh McElhenny. He played with the Cardinals from 1952 to 1958, after which he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams, now the St. Louis Rams.
The incredible detail about this trade is that he was traded to the Rams for nine of their players. He played with Los Angeles from 1959 to 1962 and then spent one year with the Detroit Lions. He ended his professional football career with the Philadelphia
Eagles, playing with them from 1964 to 1966.
He was also selected to the Pro Bowl six times in his 14 year career, receiving Pro Bowl Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors in 1956. He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976.
He also won two medals at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. He won the silver medal with the United States of America team in the 4x400 meter relay race and the bronze medal in the 400 meter run.
His death was announced by his nephew, Art Thompson III, who said that before his uncle’s health deteriorated over the past week, he had been able to walk with some help and that his children had taken him out.
"For those in his family, he was 'The Man,'" said Thompson. "Whether it was barbecuing, listening to his collection of Dinah Washington and Sam Cooke albums, winning games of skill, giving sage advice to the younger generation or just maintaining a calm
steady hand ... we all felt his positive influence."
From the time that Matson played for the Rams, he had been living in the same house with his wife Mary, who he married in 1954 at the age of 24. The city of Los Angeles wants to turn their old home into the Ollie and Mary Matson Residence, a City of Los
Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.
His wife passed away before him and he is survived by his four children, Barbara, Bruce, Lisa and Ollie III, his sister Ocie Thompson, eight grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
He will be remembered as one of the greatest running backs in NFL history.