Football, TV star Merlin Olsen dead
DUARTE, Calif., March 11 (UPI) -- Pro football Hall of Fame defensive lineman Merlin Olsen, who later moved into sports commentary and acting, died Thursday, the St. Louis Rams said. He was 69.
A longtime color commentator for NBC-TV's professional football and Rose Bowl broadcasts, Olsen was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma last year and underwent three courses of chemotherapy.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops from the protective lining that covers many of the body's internal organs. It is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos.
Olsen filed a lawsuit against NBC and other companies in December, claiming they were responsible for his cancer due to his exposure to asbestos while working at them, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Besides his sports commentary, Olsen played Jonathan Garvey in NBC's "Little House on the Prairie" from 1974 to 1984 and starred in his own NBC series, "Father Murphy," from 1981 to 1983.
He was also a spokesman for the FTD floral wire service in TV commercials.
Olsen, who was 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, played his entire 15-year football career, from 1962 to 1977, with the Los Angeles Rams.
He was part of the Rams' "Fearsome Foursome" defensive line -- with David "Deacon" Jones, Rosey Grier and Lamar Lundy -- which set an NFL record for the fewest yards allowed during a 14-game season in 1968.
Olsen remains the Rams' all-time leader in career tackles, with 915.
Olsen appeared in the Pro Bowl 14 times and was the National Football League's most valuable player in 1974.
He was earlier an All-American at Utah State University and a first-round draft pick of the Rams in 1962.
He is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.
PGA tournament in Puerto Rico rained out
RIO GRANDE, Puerto Rico, March 11 (UPI) -- The first round of the PGA's Puerto Rico Open was postponed Thursday because of heavy rain.
Only 18 players were able to begin play Friday morning before play was stopped at 7:19 a.m. Officials said play will resume at 6:15 a.m. EST Friday.
About 6 inches of rain fell on the Trump International course by 2 p.m. Thursday, officials said, leaving the course unplayable.
Skip Kendall was one of nine players to finish one hole Thursday. He holed out from 159 yards for an eagle on the par-4 10th hole for the very early tournament lead. He said he couldn't see the ball go into the cup because of darkness caused by the storm.
Vonn declared super-combined champ
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany, March 11 (UPI) -- International skiing officials declared American Lindsay Vonn the 2010 super combined champion, locking in results after the cancellation of a race.
Vonn led Swede Anja Paerson by 10 points and Austrian Michaela Kirshcgasser was 30 points behind in the discipline's standings when a super-combined race last Friday at Crans Montana, Switzerland, was called off because of high winds.
There were only two super combined World Cup runs this year. Vonn won a December race in Val d'Isere, France, and was third in a race at St. Moritz, Switzerland. Paerson won the super-combined season title last year.
FIS Council members Thursday ruled the standings would remain as they are, giving Vonn at least three World Cup titles this year. She'd already locked up the downhill and super giant slalom championships.
Vonn has a 165-point lead over German Maria Riesch in the overall World Cup standings with only a super-G and slalom left on the World Cup schedule.
Riesch finished third in Thursday's giant slalom in Germany while Vonn crashed during the race's first run. Slovenian Tina Maze won the race in 2 minutes, 10.72 seconds, with German Kathrin Hoelzl second at 2:10.75. Riesch's total time was 2:10.93.
The runner-up finish allowed Hoelzl to lock up the season giant slalom title.
Study: Most will follow 'Madness' on TV
AUSTIN, Texas, March 11 (UPI) -- A majority of fans following the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament -- 83 percent -- will watch it on TV but the online audience is growing, a study indicated.
Unicast, a research firm that advises the publishing and advertising industry on Internet advertising, said its 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament Fever Report found 44 percent of those surveyed said they would follow the tournament, which begins March 16, online and 10 percent said they plan to follow the proceedings using a mobile device.
Among those planning to follow March Madness online, 69 percent said they would use ESPN and 42 percent planned to used Yahoo! Sports. The survey found 29 percent planned to use CBSSports.com -- the Web site of the tournament's official TV broadcaster -- while 29 percent said they would use the NCAA Web site.
Bryan Hjelm, vice president of marketing for Unicast, said iPhone apps, online bracket tools and streaming video are helping expand the online audience.
"Sites like ESPN.com and Yahoo! Sports will dominate traffic due to their inherent sports fan user base, which make them prime real estate this month for marketers targeting the typical visitor – men aged 18 to 35," he said.
The survey of 1,062 people was conducted March 4-7. No margin of error was reported.
Henin advances at Indian Wells
INDIAN WELLS, Calif., March 11 (UPI) -- Justine Henin led the way on the opening day of the BNP Paribas Open Wednesday by rolling to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Magdalena Rybarikova.
Henin is mounting a comeback after having retired as the No. 1 player in the world almost two years ago. She is unseeded for this prestigious event, at which she is a former champion.
The seeded players received a bye past the opening round.
Henin was joined in the second round Wednesday by Patty Schnyder, a 6-1, 6-2 winner over Tathiana Garbin, and Jill Craybas, who ousted Eleni Daniilidou 6-0, 7-5.