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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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March 27, 2008 1:24 PM

Benji Olson retires

Posted by Bob Condotta

Former Husky offensive lineman Benji Olson has decided to retire after 10 years in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans, having battled back injuries the past two seasons.

Here's a link with more details.

By any measure Olson is one of the best OLs in UW history, earning All-American honors in 1996 and 1997.

I'm not sure UW fans ever really saw Olson at his best, however.

My first year covering the team full-time was 1997, Olson's fourth year in the program (he redshirted in 1994 and played three years before turning pro). He battled back problems all season in 1997 and started only nine games (which made it somewhat surprising that he was named an All-American that year by both the AP and the Walter Camp Football Foundation).

He was particularly slowed late in the year, one of many veterans who were out or less than 100 percent at the end, which played a part in the three-game losing streak that concluded the season, kept UW out of the Rose Bowl and helped lay the foundation for the firing of Jim Lambright the following year.

Like a lot of the vets on that team, Olson got healthy for the Aloha Bowl against Michigan State and the Huskies won in a rout, 51-23, making a lot of people wonder where that team had been all season. The reality was, however, a lot of it had been on the sidelines during the three-game losing streak that turned a 7-1 team into a 7-4 team.

Olson felt good enough at the Aloha Bowl that he laughingly bragged at one point of having gone surfing the day before.

Still, the back injury played a part in his dropping to the fifth round of the 1998 draft (it also played a part in his deciding to leave early, not wanting to risk another college season).

Olson's retirement leaves Khalif Barnes (Jacksonville), Olin Kruetz (Bears) and Joe Toledo (recently signed by Green Bay) as the only active UW offenisve linemen in the NFL (other than Bryan Pittman, technically a center but who is almost solely a long snapper for Houston)

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