Making a case why Ernie Holmes should be enshrined in the Steelers Hall of Honor

Steelers, Ernie Holmes
Steelers, Ernie Holmes / Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
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The Steelers recently announced their inductees for the 2023 Steelers Hall of Honor. Of the many Steelers already enshrined, they will add James Harrison, Gerry Mullins, Aaron Smith, and Ray Mansfield. However, of all those enshrined, one name is still missing that must wait at least one more year.

All Steelers can not be inducted into the Hall of Honor, and they try to create certain criteria to separate out candidates that distinguish themselves for admittance. In part, that’s why Ernie Holmes has not yet been inducted into the Hall of Honor. Still, he is a candidate worthy of consideration for the honor of induction.

Why Holmes should be in the hall of honor

Ernie Holmes will never be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, which is a shame he was a good defensive lineman.   The Steelers drafted him late in the 1971 draft. However, he was one of the final pieces Chuck Noll needed to finish creating one of the most dominant defenses in NFL history. The Steelers had already drafted Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood. In 1971 he added Jack Ham, Dwight White, Ernie Holmes, and Mike Wagner.

The addition Holmes, with White,  rounded out the starting front four for the Steelers. Despite being the all-important member of the Steelers defensive line, he never received the same accolades. He was eased into the lineup. He didn’t play in 1971, was a backup in 1972, and became a full-time starter in 1973. Depending on how you talk, some think he may have been better than Joe Greene.

If not better than Greene, Holmes was then at least as mean and nasty as Joe Greene or perhaps just plain crazy; again, it depends on which teammate you ask. Still, he finished his career with 39.5 sacks and obliterated offensive linemen. Raiders guard Gene Upshaw generally dominated his opponents; however, Holmes was his worst nightmare.  

He had two nicknames as well, depending on which one you remember. Some called him Fats, in relation to the amount of food he could put away and later his ensuing weight issues. Others called him Arrowhead because he cut his hair so it was in the shape of an arrowhead; it was an intimidating look for a player that was intimidating without it.