Ernie Holmes' mental health issues
In the 70s, some mental health issues were not as understood as they are today. Hence, Ernie Homes exhibited some red flags early in his career, and if some had noticed them, who knows how his career may have panned out overall. Although one incident nearly cost him his life before he even worked his way into the starting lineup.
Some signs indicated he probably needed some medical help, but these signs were largely ignored or not immediately recognized. He used to stop by Dan Rooney’s office to talk and was worried people were out to get him. In fairness, Dan Rooney was not a doctor, so it’s understandable he may not have realized the potential seriousness of what Holmes was saying, at least in the 70s. What happened made people take notice and nearly killed Holmes in the process.
In 1973 he divorced his wife and, facing large legal bills, asked Dan Rooney for some financial help. Rooney said he would see what he could do and said to come to see him in Pittsburgh. He then proceeded to drive from Texas to Pittsburgh to do just that. Driving through the night and the next day on no sleep, he arrived only to find Steelers office closed.
Distraught and tired going back on the road at a traffic accident; he stopped and told a cop trucks were trying to cut him off on the road. The Cop ignored him. Then on the Turnpike headed to Ohio he pulled out a loaded shotgun and started shooting at the tires of passing trucks. His actions led to a standoff with police, in which he did wound one officer. Miraculously Holmes finally surrendered without being shot by the cops. One officer said, “We could have killed him a dozen times.”