The "Fearsome Foursome" was a title first used in reporting American Professional Football, when referring to the dominating defensive lines of the San Diego Chargers of the American Football League in the early 1960s, the New York Giants, Detroit Lions and most widely, the Los Angeles Rams of the 1960s and 1970s.
Professional Football teams
New York Giants
In the 1957 season the New York Daily News, a major New York city tabloid, ran an article and sketches of the New York Giant defensive line consisting of ends Andy Robustelli and Jim Katcavage, and tackles Rosey Grier and Dick Modzelewski and a headline that read "A Fearsome Foursome."
San Diego Chargers
The nickname "Fearsome Foursome" was first regularly used to describe the American Football League's Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers' defensive front four, including starters DE Ron Nery, DT Bill Hudson, DT Ernie Ladd, and DE Earl Faison. The Chargers moved to San Diego in 1961, and Faison made overall AFL Rookie of the Year, a rare feat for a defensive player. Alternate members of the group included DE Bob Petrich, DT George Gross, and DE-DT Henry Schmidt. At the time Gross and Ladd were two of the largest and strongest men in Professional Football. The Chargers' Foursome helped them reach the first two American Football League Championship games and five altogether, winning the AFL Championship in 1963 with a 51 - 10 thumping of the Boston Patriots.
Detroit Lions (1962)
Los Angeles Rams
Still later, Rosey Grier was acquired from the New York Giants in 1963 to join Lamar Lundy, Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones as the Los Angeles Rams starting defensive line. They also became known as the Fearsome Foursome, and the greater publicity garnered by the NFL leads many to assume they were the originals. Dick Butkus called them "the most dominant line in football history." They gained fame as the Rams went from a perennial second division, under .500 team to a NFL powerhouse under coach George Allen. Roger Brown replaced Grier in 1967, and Diron Talbert replaced Brown in 1970. Also in 1970 Coy Bacon replaced Lamar Lundy.
The line was ultimately broken up when George Allen became coach of the Washington Redskins in 1971; Talbert and Deacon Jones followed Allen via trades in 1972 and Bacon left in 1973. After missing the playoffs from 1970–72, the Rams then won 7 straight division titles from 1973 to 1979, and were led in part by The New Fearsome Foursome.
This line consisted of ends Jack Youngblood and Fred Dryer, and tackles Merlin Olsen and Larry Brooks. Youngblood and Olsen are NFL hall of famers while Brooks made the Pro Bowl 5 times. Dryer also made the Pro Bowl once, and set an NFL record with 2 safeties in one game vs. the Packers. Olsen retired after a 15 year career at the end of the 1976 season, and he was replaced for one year by his younger brother Phil Olsen and then by Mike Fanning.
Detroit Lions (2011)
The nickname "Fearsome Foursome" has locally been used by the newly formed defensive line of the 2011 Detroit Lions, consisting of 2010 Rookie of the Year Ndamukong Suh, Pro-bowler Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and new draft pick Nick Fairley.
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