Last month, Hall of Famer and former Cardinal Ollie Matson passed away and as Mike Sando noted this morning, Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill sent a letter to the family offering condolences and memories. It made sense — apparently Bidwill and Matson remained close over the years, even after the Cardinals traded Matson mid-career.
Matson’s niece, Clark Hochstein, lives in Phoenix (One of his grandsons attends Arizona State as well). Hochstein said, in talking to Matson’s sons, daughters and grandsons, Bidwill used to call the Matson house every Christmas to wish them a happy holiday.
As for the letter, “It was amazing how blown away everyone was to receive this letter,” Hochstein said. “It was so personal.”
In the letter, Bidwill recalled a long ago game against the Bears and how Matson — with the Cards behind 10-0 — returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and later stripped a ballcarrier and returned the fumble for the game-winning score. “People always ask me how certain players from the past would stack up in today’s game,” Bidwill wrote. “I say this with the greatest amount of respect for the current NFL players: Ollie Matson wouldn’t just stack up, he would be a superstar.”
Hochstein said by the time she arrived at the funeral services for Matson — attended by many retired players — she noticed that her family members had shown the letter to many of the former players. “It really meant a lot,” she said. “Everyone was kind of grumbling about how the situation is (regarding labor in the NFL), and to have the letter, it was a way to stop grumbling about what was going on and think about how it once was between players and owners.”
Tags: Bill Bidwill, Ollie Matson
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Running back Ollie Matson, a one-time Chicago Cardinals No. 1 draft pick and Hall of Famer who made six Pro Bowls, died Saturday at the age of 80.
Matson is a member of the Cardinals’ Ring of Honor and was the star of the Chicago version of the franchise from 1952-58. He was then traded to the Los Angeles Rams for an astounding nine players prior to the 1959 season. Matson never missed a game in his six seasons with the Cards (he sat out the 1953 season while in the military; h/t to reader Mike) and rushed for 3,331 yards and 24 touchdowns while catching 130 passes for 2,150 yards and 24 touchdowns in that span. He added nine touchdowns on kick returns. Matson also won a pair of medals as a sprinter in the 1952 Olympics.
Tags: Ollie Matson
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