Much has been said about former NFL standout Ernie Holmes since an automobile accident claimed his life earlier this week. And rightly so.
The former Pittsburgh Steeler was best known as a tough hard-nosed football player and as an anchor of the Steel Curtain defense for Pittsburgh in the 1970’s. Holmes, who earned two Super Bowl rings while with the Steelers, was driving alone near Lumberton, about 80 miles northeast of Houston, when his car left the road and rolled several times. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety he was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car and then pronounced dead at the scene.
When it comes time to hang your helmet in the locker for the final time, the highest and most meaningful accolades that can be given come from your peers – your teammates. The same can be said when you come to the end of your days. Remembrances are dear to those closest to you, your family. And no family is closer than those bonded together on the field of battle.
"It was Friday morning when Joe Green called and told me the bad news about Ernie," Waxahachie city councilman Chuck Beatty said. "It was a sad day because a little while later I received another call telling me that Dwight White’s (another member of the Steel Curtain famed defensive line) father had passed."
Holmes, White and Beatty have remained close friends over the time since they played for the Steelers.
“We referred to ourselves as the Texas Homeboys. There was Ernie, who played college ball at Texas Southern, Joe Greene from the University of North Texas, Dwight White from East Texas State, Ron Shanklin from UNT and me, also from UNT,” Beatty explained.
Beatty had a tough week, going to Dwight’s father’s funeral on Wednesday and then to the services for Holmes on Saturday.
“He was such a great guy,” Beatty said of Holmes. “He really turned his life around the last few months. He lost about 250 to 300 pounds and had knee replacement surgery. He was pastoring a church and doing very well.
“I talked to him on the telephone just a couple of weeks ago. He was going to be more involved in the golf tournament (The Steel Curtain Doomsday Golf Classic hosted by Beatty each June) this year.
“In the past he would come down and wear his signature red glove to hit the first drive of the tourney. Then he would ride in his cart and have a good time with all of us. We will really miss him,” Beatty stated.
Holmes was most known for his quickness and hitting ability plus a relentless pass rush from the inside at his defensive tackle position.
According to Beatty, everybody loved him. We all called him Dancing Bear. He was a head hunter, he was real light on his feet.
God speed Ernie. We’ll see you on the big course soon.