Ernie Holmes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ernie Holmes
No. 63
Defensive Tackle
Personal information
Date of birth: (1948-07-11)July 11, 1948
Place of birth: Jamestown, Texas
Date of death: January 17, 2008(2008-01-17) (aged 59)
Place of death: Beaumont, Texas
Career information
College: Texas Southern
NFL Draft: 1971 / Round: 8 / Pick: 203
Debuted in 1971
Last played in 1978
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Sacks 40
Games 84
Seasons 7
Stats at

Earnest Lee "Ernie" Holmes (11 July 1948 – 17 January 2008), also nicknamed "Fats", was an American football player Defensive Tackle who played with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the National Football League (NFL). He played 7 seasons from 1972 to 1977 and was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the Steelers. He was a lineman of the legendary Steel Curtain defense. His fellow linemen during this period were Joe Greene, Dwight White, and L. C. Greenwood. Multiple Steelers players from the era have publicly stated that Holmes was as good a player as Joe Greene. While quarterback sacks were not an official NFL statistic until 1982, the Steelers credit Holmes with a career total of 40, eighth on the franchise's all-time list.[1] This includes team-high totals of 11 in 1974 (including a stretch of six consecutive games with a sack, which ties him with Greene and Greg Lloyd for the longest such streak in team history)[2] and 10.5 in 1975.[3] He was intensely fierce on the playing field and was often characterized as the most feared man on the Steelers defense. However, Holmes was also known for being wild, lacking personal discipline, and often out of control, traits that ultimately led to his demise. At one point, both Holmes and his girlfriend had an arrowhead shaved onto their heads.[4]

Holmes played college football at Texas Southern University and was selected by the Steelers in the eighth round of the 1971 NFL Draft. After growing impatient with his weight problems, the Steelers traded Holmes in 1978 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he failed to make the team coming out of preseason.[5] He played three games for the New England Patriots in 1978 before retiring.

In 1986, Holmes appeared in WrestleMania 2 and made other appearances as a professional wrestler. His weight ballooned to over 400 pounds after his football career ended.[6]

Holmes's number 63 was later issued to All-Pro center Dermontti Dawson. The number has since been taken out of circulation as being "unofficially retired" in honor of Dawson.

Later life[edit]

Until his death, Holmes lived in Texas, where he was an ordained minister, wrestler, and an actor.[7] He appeared in an episode of "The A-Team" in the 1980s. He settled down on a ranch near tiny Wiergate, with a population of 461. The town is found near the Louisiana border. He had his own church, and told the Steelers he was a more "spiritual being."


In the offseason preceding the 1973 season, Holmes had an emotional breakdown while driving on the Ohio Turnpike, firing shots at a police helicopter as it pursued him. On March 16, 1973,[8] he was charged in the shooting of a Highway Patrol Heli-pilot. He was found in a field near his abandoned car, in the township of Goshen, located in western Mahoning County, Ohio. When apprehended, he threw his gun away and put his hands up. He was given 5 years' probation. Diagnosed with acute paranoid psychosis, he was believed to be depressed and having marital troubles. Holmes played another 5 seasons with the Steelers before being traded due to on-going weight problems.[9]


Holmes died in a one-car accident near Beaumont, Texas on the night of January 17, 2008. He was driving alone when his car left the road and rolled several times, about 80 miles (130 km) from Houston, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety dispatcher.

Holmes was thrown from his automobile and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. He had not been wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.


External links[edit]