The legacy of Steelers Ernie Holmes
Following his career with the Steelers he tried out and was cut by the Buccaneers, but was picked up by the Patriots for the 1978 season, played three games, and then retired. Considering he was one of the building blocks of the original steel curtain and what made them so dominant, it was sad to see him go.
After football, he was briefly involved in a movie, was on TV, and was involved in professional wrestling. He also admitted he was an alcoholic and a substance abuser, and after football, his weight blossomed to 400 pounds. Through it all, he still worked on getting his life on track. In November 2007, he told former teammates he was an ordained minister and returned to Pittsburgh as an honorary co-captain in the Cleveland game.
Two months in January of 2008, Holmes was killed in a car crash, apparently falling asleep at the wheel. While perhaps his greatness as a player may be overshadowed by his life off the football field. It’s also interesting to note that, in some ways, the demons he battled in his personal life are what drove him to be such a nightmare for opposing NFL guards like the Raiders' Gene Upshaw.
In the end, he is the unsung hero of the steel curtain. He will never be in the Hall of Fame, but perhaps someday, the Steelers will recognize his importance to the legacy of the 70s Steelers dynasty instead of his life off the football field. We look forward to the day he gets the recognition he deserves by having him placed in the Steelers Hall of Honor.