Ollie Matson

Ollie Matson
Ollie Matson
No. 33     
Personal information
Date of birth: May 1, 1930(1930-05-01)
Trinity, Texas
Date of death: February 19, 2011(2011-02-19) (aged 80)
Los Angeles, California
Career information
College: San Francisco
NFL Draft: 1952 / Round: 1 / Pick: 3
Debuted in 1952 for the Chicago Cardinals
Last played in 1966 for the Philadelphia Eagles
Career history
Career highlights and awards
  • Pro Bowl selection (1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958)
  • All-Pro selection (1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959)
  • NFL 1950s All-Decade Team
  • 1956 Pro Bowl MVP
Stats at NFL.com
Pro Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
Olympic medal record
Men’s athletics
Competitor for the  United States
Silver 1952 Helsinki 4x400 metres relay
Bronze 1952 Helsinki 400 metres

Ollie Genoa Matson II (May 1, 1930 – February 19, 2011) was an American Olympic medal winning sprinter and professional American football running back who played in the National Football League, in 1952 and from 1954 to 1966. He graduated from George Washington High School in San Francisco in 1948.


College career

Matson attended the City College of San Francisco prior to transferring to the University of San Francisco. While in school, Matson became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. In 1951, Matson's senior year at USF, he led the nation in rushing yardage and touchdowns en route to leading the Dons to an undefeated season. He was selected as an All-American and finished ninth in Heisman Trophy balloting that year.

Despite its 9-0 record, the 1951 San Francisco team was not invited to a bowl game. It was later reported that the Orange, Sugar and Gator Bowls - all in the American South - did not consider inviting any teams that had black players, and the USF refused to play without its two African-American teammates.[1]

Drafted #1 by the Chicago Cardinals, he went on to share 1952 Rookie of the Year honors with Hugh McElhenny of the San Francisco 49ers. During his 14-year career, Matson also played for the Los Angeles Rams (traded by the Cardinals for nine Rams players following the 1958 season),[2] the Detroit Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles, and he was named to the Pro Bowl six times (1952, 1954 to 1958). When Matson retired in 1966, his 12,799 career all-purpose yards were second only to Jim Brown.[3] Matson was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1972, and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1976.

Matson also won a bronze medal in the 400-meter run and a silver medal as part of the United States 4x400-meter relay team in the 1952 Summer Olympics held in Helsinki, Finland.

Ollie Matson was a member of The Pigskin Club Of Washington, D.C. National Intercollegiate All-American Football Players Honor Roll.

Personal life

He married his wife Mary, whom he met when both were San Francisco teenagers in the mid 1940s, in 1952. He and Mary lived in the same Mid-City Los Angeles home from the time he played for the Los Angeles Rams until his passing. The site is being nominated as the 'Ollie and Mary Matson Residence', a City of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument, as an historic house museum and interpretive center. Museum and Interpretive is Landmarking 2007-2008, being prepared by students of Los Angeles Trade Technical College, Program in Historic Preservation, anticipated listing mid-2008. Matson suffered from Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in his later years, which is a result of numerous hard hits to the head Matson sustained during his time in the NFL.[4]


Matson died in his Los Angeles home on February 19, 2011 of respiratory failure, surrounded by family.


  1. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/sports/football/21matson.html
  2. ^ Eisenberg, 2009 pg. 10
  3. ^ http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/M/MatsOl00.htm
  4. ^ Pergament, Alan (2011-02-22). Matson obituary: protecting the NFL? Still Talkin' TV (wnymedia.net). Retrieved 2011-02-22.


  • Eisenberg, John (2009), That First Season:: How Vince Lombardi Took the Worst Team in the NFL and Set It on the Path to Glory. New York:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. ISBN ISBN 978-0-618-90499-0

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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