Friday, January 18, 2008

Ernie Holmes Dies

Ernie Holmes is pictured in New Orleans on Jan. 8, 1975, as the Steelers prepared for Super Bowl IX against the Vikings. "This is the way Tarkenton will see me Sunday," Holmes said that day.

The Steel Curtain was possibly one of the Best Defenses ever to play in the NFL. Along side him were LC Greenwood, Joe Greene and Dwight White. They dominated the NFL. Here is an example of their dominance:

The 1976 Steelers defense was one of the best in NFL history, shutting out five opponents -- three in a row -- during a nine-game, season-ending winning streak. The Steelers allowed only 28 points during those nine games, an average of slightly more than a field goal per game.

Ernie was a man that played the game hard. If he played today; he would probably be spending numerous hours in the commissioners office. They just do not allowed the rough style that he played. Here are a few stats about him and what some others said about his playing:

"Ernie was an original. He was out there," said former Steelers receiver Lynn Swann, a teammate on Super Bowl-winning teams following the 1974 and '75 seasons.

"Ernie was one of the toughest players to ever wear a Steelers uniform," Steelers chairman Dan Rooney said in a statement. "At his best, he was an intimidating player who even the toughest of opponents did not want to play against."

I like Dwight White words: "Ernie was a very colorful person that you couldn't help but like off the football field -- a little different on the field as we well know," White said. "Ernie had gotten into the ministry and ... was a true inspiration to Joe, L.C., and myself when we were together. You know, it's all about where you end up, and Ernie blossomed into an individual that I respected, admired and will miss."

For you see, when Ernie was young, he made a lot of mistakes and was rough around the edges. Here is an example of the roughness and "stupidity":

Holmes told Time magazine in 1975 that he was "stone crazy," mostly because of a case early in his career when he pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon following a bizarre episode in which he fired a pistol at trucks and a police helicopter. He was sentenced to five years' probation.

From Ernie:

"I don't mind knocking somebody out," Holmes said. "If I hear a moan and a groan coming from a player I've hit, the adrenaline flows within me. I get more energy and play harder."

After football, Ernie did a little acting. He was not too successful at that but he did have a stint on the A-Team. When he settled down, he became an ordanined minister. About his ministry a little and from his teammate Russell:

Eventually, though, 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."

The Steelers took note of the difference in Holmes at reunions and autograph shows. Former linebacker Andy Russell said Holmes had taken "meaningful steps in improving his life" and seemed to be a "much more thoughtful kind of person."

Ernie's life came to an end in a car accident where he was not wearing his seatbelt. He was a man that had settled in and found himself in touch with his spiritual being. He toughed many lives on and off the field. Even when he was playing rough on the field; the following was said about him:

He had a split personality. He was a maniac on the field and a teddy bear off it. But he was a terrific guy.

Quotes came from the article

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