American Football Database
American Football Database
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 for the [[{{{debutteam}}}]]
Last played in 1978 for the [[{{{finalteam}}}]]
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Sacks     40
Games     84
Seasons     7
Stats at

Earnest Lee "Ernie" Holmes (July 11, 1948 – January 17, 2008), also nicknamed "Fats", was an American football player who was most famous for his years with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1972 to 1977. He was part of the famous Steel Curtain and played at defensive lineman. His fellow linemen during this period were Joe Greene, Dwight White, and L. C. Greenwood. He won two Super Bowl rings with them. Multiple Steelers players from the era have publicly stated that Holmes was as good as Joe Greene. While quarterback sacks were not an official NFL statistic during Holmes's career, the Steelers credit him 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 entire Steelers defense. However, Holmes was also characterized as wild, lacking personal discipline, and often out of control which led to his demise. At one point, both Holmes and his girlfriend at the time 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 the offseason preceding the 1973 season, Holmes had an emotional breakdown while driving on the Ohio Turnpike and fired shots at a police helicopter that was pursuing him in the course of a chase.

In 1986, Holmes appeared in WrestleMania 2. He also made some other appearances as a pro wrestler. His weight ballooned to over 400 pounds after his playing 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.

Television/Later Life Until his death, Holmes lived in Texas, where he was an ordained minister/wrestler/actor. He appeared in an episode of "The A Team" in the 1980's as well as becoming a preacher in his own church. "He settled down on a ranch near tiny Wiergate, a town of 461 close to the Louisiana border. He was an ordained minister, had his own church, and told the Steelers he was a more "spiritual being.""


On March 16, 1973,[7] He was charged in the shooting of a Highway Patrol Heli-pilot, after being chased for shooting at trucks on the highway. He was found in the Goshen township, in a field near his abandoned car. When apprehended he threw his gun away and put his hands up, he was given 5 years probation. This was his self described "stone crazy" point in his life. He was diagnosed with acute paranoid psychosis, and was believed to be very depressed and have troubles in his marriage. Even through all this he had another 5 seasons with the steelers before being traded due to his weight problem's.


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

He was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from his automobile and was pronounced dead at the scene the Texas DOT stated.


External links

fr:Ernie Holmes pt:Ernie Holmes