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Dan40
03-11-2007, 04:50 PM
Ernie Ladd, hall of fame football player and wrestler, has died
By Nick Deriso
nderiso@thenewsstar.com

(c) COPYRIGHT, THE NEWS-STAR 2007

Ernie Ladd, a talented football player who made his name nationally as a wrestler, died overnight, according to family members.

Ladd, 68, had battled cancer — first in his colon, then later in his stomach and bones — since 2004. Born Nov. 28, 1938, in Rayville, but raised in Orange, Texas, he worked through his final years as a pastor in the Louisiana town of Franklin.

Funeral arrangements were still pending today, according to Roslyn Ladd, his wife of more than 45 years.

Selected 15th in the American Football League draft by San Diego out of Grambling College, Ladd appeared in three of that now-defunct league's championship games, winning the 1963 title.

"We were like a family," Ladd told The News-Star in May 2005. "We were one of the first integrated teams, with black players and white players as roommates."

He had entered professional football as a heralded 1960 first-team all-league defensive college lineman under former Grambling coach Eddie Robinson. There, Ladd helped GSU to its first-ever Southwestern Athletic Conference championship.

At 6-9 and 315 pounds, he was arguably the biggest GSU star to ever play for Robinson, who remains the all-time winningest football coach in Division I history.
"The first year he was here, he taught me a lesson," Robinson once said. "He told me how good he was. Sure, I'd say. Then he hurt somebody. I'd feel sorry for the people he was tackling."

Elected to four straight AFL All-Star Games from 1962-1965, he later played with the Houston Oilers and the Kansas City Chiefs. While with the Chiefs, he reunited with future Pro Football Hall of Famer Junious "Buck" Buchanan, another Grambling product, and was on the roster for both of Kansas City's Super Bowl appearances.

Ladd began wrestling as a sideline during his rookie AFL season, and found the payday and fame so alluring that eventually he gave up pro football. It was there that he picked up a nickname that would remain with him for life: "Big Cat."

Ladd's storylines resonated during wrestling's earliest flowering as a national attraction, not to mention signature moves that included the "guillotine drop" and a boot to the face. Rivalries with Andre the Giant and Dusty Rhodes helped shape wrestling's 1970s persona.

Today, he's the only person in both the American Football League and World Wrestling Federation halls of fame. Ladd is also a 1994 inductee into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, and joined the San Diego Hall of Champions in 2004.

Ladd's knees were so damaged — his first surgery came while still in college — that he was eventually forced to walk backward down long staircases. But Ladd's boundless spirit was unbowed by his body's failures, as he displayed a touch of humor even after that cancer diagnosis.

"The doctor told me I had three-to-six months to live," Ladd said in 2005, then at the mid-way point in his nearly four year battle with the disease. "I told him Dr. Jesus has the verdict on me."

Ladd was a father of four and grandfather to over a dozen more.

The News Star (http://www.thenewsstar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070311/UPDATES02/70311008/1006/SPORTS)

SDynasty
03-11-2007, 04:57 PM
RIP Mr. Ladd:Bolt: Best wishes to your loved ones

Thunderstruck21
03-11-2007, 05:12 PM
my condolences to the Ladd family, rest in peace, Mr. Ladd

LV_BOLT
03-11-2007, 05:16 PM
My condolences to the family of one of classic Chargers players.

Bolt Cola
03-11-2007, 05:18 PM
Rip Big Cat

drangus
03-11-2007, 05:20 PM
RIP MR Ladd, he was a true charger legend and a Giant amongst Giants

Thunderstruck
03-11-2007, 05:26 PM
RIP Ernie Ladd. You were a man among boys when you played. :(

LTfan4life
03-11-2007, 05:36 PM
RIP Big Cat

Nomad
03-11-2007, 05:44 PM
Ernie Ladd, RIP.

ftwbolt
03-11-2007, 05:58 PM
R.I.P. Big Guy

since 61
03-11-2007, 06:33 PM
Thanks for the memories. Balboa Stadium was always too small a stage for you.

foober
03-11-2007, 06:41 PM
Thanks ernie for all the great play. Wish you were on the team today. YOu were a great player.

crazeone
03-11-2007, 06:43 PM
I remember seeing him during his wrestling days; unfortunately, i was too young to see him as a Charger... RIP

GO CHARGERS:Helmet:

56lightsout56
03-11-2007, 07:08 PM
Bummer news. RIP, Ernie.

I even enjoyed him as the big cat in "wraslin"

jcarrabolt
03-11-2007, 07:23 PM
Maybe they should have a moment of silence the first home game of 2007. Him and Big Earl Faison were quite a tandem in that defensive front. That 1963 team was somethin else!

RIP Big Cat

Chargeroo
03-11-2007, 07:38 PM
Ernie was a great player and a pretty neat guy. He played a practical joke on me many years ago. Made me laugh very hard. RIP Ernie.

chargeraddict
03-11-2007, 07:38 PM
Maybe they should have a moment of silence the first home game of 2007. Him and Big Earl Faison were quite a tandem in that defensive front. That 1963 team was somethin else!

RIP Big Cat

You've got that right. They were as fast, strong and good as any front the team has fielded since.

boltpride515
03-11-2007, 07:40 PM
R.I.P Ernie Ladd. Theres actually a guy who sits in front of me that has an awesome throwback ernie ladd jersey that is signed.

JoeMcRugby
03-11-2007, 08:05 PM
R.I.P Ernie Ladd. Theres actually a guy who sits in front of me that has an awesome throwback ernie ladd jersey that is signed.
Is he a tall guy - about 6'6"?

That's IronMountain1960 from this board.

RIP, Big Cat. :(

SP17BOLT
03-11-2007, 08:06 PM
Rest in Peace, Ernie Ladd.

Stone
03-11-2007, 08:34 PM
This hits me in three ways. I am a huge Grambling fan, a huge wrestling fan, and of course a huge Charger fan. Very sad to see him go, and prayers for any extended family.

EDIT: This message was written by WWE commentator Jim Ross. Even though it discusses wrestling, it talks about Ernie's Grambling days, his personality, and a couple mentions of the Chargers.

J.R. Remembers Ernie “The Big Cat” Ladd (http://www.jrsbarbq.com/blog/2007/03/11/jr-remembers-ernie-%e2%80%9cthe-big-cat%e2%80%9d-ladd/)

It was with deep sadness that I hear of my friend Ernie Ladd’s recent passing, after fighting a losing battle to cancer, first in his colon, and then stomach and bone cancer. Ernie was only 68 years of age.

Ernie played college football at Grambling University for legendary Coach, Eddie Robinson. Ernie and fellow football great, former K.C. Chief Buck Buchanan, both had intended on only playing basketball at Grambling, but wise Coach Robinson saw two giants of men who told the coach they never got enough to eat in the cafeteria and were thinking about transferring to another school that would feed them better. Coach Robinson made Ernie and Buck a deal, Robinson would give each of them a key to the cafeteria’s kitchen so they could go there and eat whenever they were hungry IF they would both come out for the football team. Obviously, the deal was done and history was made, as both Ernie and Buck made it to the top level of professional football with “The Big Cat” going to San Diego and Buchanan being drafted by Kansas City.

I became great friends with Ernie while he was working as Cowboy Bill Watts’s booker/matchmaker in the 80s. Watts defied his peers when naming a black man, Ernie “The Big Cat” Ladd, as Watts’s right hand man. Ernie taught me so much about wrestling psychology, how to handle talent/athletes, the intricacies of building a black superstar in that era (JYD), and gave me more info on race relations than I ever thought I would ever know. Ernie was one of my mentors and a man I respected immensely.

We used to battle, sometimes all night, playing heads up dominoes, as Ernie was reputed to be the “best domino player in the NFL.” I brought Ernie to a couple of WWE TV events to talk to the wrestlers, but many of them did not take it seriously because of Ernie’s “old school” demeanor and message. It’s too bad some of the talents did not respect or listen to Ernie’s message because now they will never have the chance to hear it again.

I will miss “Foots,” who coined so many phrases including, “I’m six feet nine and my feet cover the ground I walk on.” Or, “There’s two things in life that I hate, dogs chasing cars and broken down wrestlers chasing me.” Ernie actually made much more money wrestling than he did in the early days of the AFL, pre-merger days, who still treated the black players disrespectfully and, as Ernie would say, “like field hands.” Ernie was a true man of God and I am sure he is in heaven at this very moment and has perhaps already engaged one of his former teammates or wrestling associates in a game of “bones” (dominoes). God Bless you Ernie and thanks for teaching me so much about life, people, and our business. I will miss you until we see each other again.

SDChargeHer
03-11-2007, 08:51 PM
R.I.P. Ernie

IronMountain1960
03-11-2007, 10:31 PM
R.I.P Ernie Ladd. Theres actually a guy who sits in front of me that has an awesome throwback ernie ladd jersey that is signed.
Section 22? If it is, its me. I saw Ladd get punched in the stomach, by a 285 pound Houston Oiler OT in 1961. Ladd knocked him flat on the ground, leaned over, and picked him up, by his jersey and one leg, and dead lifted him over his head, arms fully streached about 10 feet in the air, and slam him into the ground, and then proceed to slam his foot into the guys face mask. Both players were ejected, except the Oiler was carried off on a stretcher, I am sure Earnie wasn't proud of that, but the strength he had was amazing! I have a throwback jersey, signed by Earnie, and he signed it with a bible verse, so I am sure he having a great time in heaven right now!:)

The-Beast
03-11-2007, 10:39 PM
Rest in Peace mister Ladd.

Rivers_owns
03-11-2007, 11:17 PM
R.I.P Ladd! :(

BORNINSD1964
03-12-2007, 01:29 AM
Section 22? If it is, its me. I saw Ladd get punched in the stomach, by a 285 pound Houston Oiler OT in 1961. Ladd knocked him flat on the ground, leaned over, and picked him up, by his jersey and one leg, and dead lifted him over his head, arms fully streached about 10 feet in the air, and slam him into the ground, and then proceed to slam his foot into the guys face mask. Both players were ejected, except the Oiler was carried off on a stretcher, I am sure Earnie wasn't proud of that, but the strength he had was amazing! I have a throwback jersey, signed by Earnie, and he signed it with a bible verse, so I sure he having a great time in heaven right now!:)

Thanks a lot for that great story IronMountain!

RIP Mr. Ladd. Glad you got your rings!!!

CharginCharles
03-12-2007, 04:41 PM
My ears filled with tears when I read the news that we lost Ernie Ladd. It's too bad that so many of you are so young as to have never seen him play. "Big Ernie Ladd", as he was always referred to as when knew him was one of the San Diego Chargers' first defensive super-heroes, much like "Lights Out" Merriman today. In fact, I would guess that more San Diegans knew who 77 was in the early 60's than they know who 56 is today. You couldn't miss him on the field. He might have been a "gentle giant" off the field, but he meant business when he suited up.

To those of who are old enough to have our dad's (and/or mom's) take us to those great Charger games in Balboa Stadium, Big Ernie Ladd was one of our football icons along with the likes of Earl Faison, Keith Lincoln, Paul Lowe, Paul Maguire, John Hadl, Jack Kemp, and of course, "Bambi", Lance Alworth. To us, these people were the quintessential Chargers... they set the standards by which all subsequent Charger teams are measured. And, they set a very high standard indeed. Some of you may remember the original "fearsome foursome", Ernie Ladd, Earl Faison, Bill Hudson and Rony Nery. In 1963, Big Ernie Ladd and the rest of the Chargers won the AFL championship by thumping the Patriots. It was a heck of a game. I'm sure anyone who was there will remember, as I do, that these guys,... these guys, where "THE Chargers." To this day, as far as I am concerned, those guys, are the "real Chargers" and it saddens me greatly to think that we've lost one of the best. In fact, when they won in 63, I think the NFL champions were the Chicago Bears. Coach Halas of the Bears had to admit that the Chargers where the real deal, a real football team and probably a worthy opponent for his Bears should there ever be some sort of "world championship" game between the AFL and the NFL.

There was a sports writer back in the early 60's who has a column on the left hand side of the San Diego Union sports page. His name was Jack Murphy. We had a tradition in my family that I would read Mr. Murphy's column aloud at the breakfast table every Monday morning. My parents partly liked it I think because it made me read and I hated reading in school. I liked it because I learned to appreciate Mr. Murphy's wit and obvious love of the Chargers, including their coach and players. I can still remember to this day reading an article about Big Ernie Ladd stopping somewhere for breakfast, like Alpine.... my memory is a bit fuzzy (give a break, its been nearly 50 years since I read the story).. and he ordered like a dozen eggs, etc. etc... we laughed and laughed.

I can honestly say that Ernie Ladd was a part of my life. A small part, but a part nonetheless. And I am truly sorry that he is gone now. I'll still see him playing in his 77 uniform in Balboa Stadium with all is Charger teammates and Sid Gillman standing on the sidelines wearing his bow tie.

charger1_sj
03-12-2007, 04:51 PM
I'm sorry to hear about this. RIP Ernie Ladd. I had the pleasure of seeing Ladd play. A great Charger and awesome player.

chargerlew
03-12-2007, 04:57 PM
My ears filled with tears when I read the news that we lost Ernie Ladd. It's too bad that so many of you are so young as to have never seen him play. "Big Ernie Ladd", as he was always referred to as when knew him was one of the San Diego Chargers' first defensive super-heroes, much like "Lights Out" Merriman today. In fact, I would guess that more San Diegans knew who 77 was in the early 60's than they know who 56 is today. You couldn't miss him on the field. He might have been a "gentle giant" off the field, but he meant business when he suited up.

To those of who are old enough to have our dad's (and/or mom's) take us to those great Charger games in Balboa Stadium, Big Ernie Ladd was one of our football icons along with the likes of Earl Faison, Keith Lincoln, Paul Lowe, Paul Maguire, John Hadl, Jack Kemp, and of course, "Bambi", Lance Alworth. To us, these people were the quintessential Chargers... they set the standards by which all subsequent Charger teams are measured. And, they set a very high standard indeed. Some of you may remember the original "fearsome foursome", Ernie Ladd, Earl Faison, Bill Hudson and Rony Nery. In 1963, Big Ernie Ladd and the rest of the Chargers won the AFL championship by thumping the Patriots. It was a heck of a game. I'm sure anyone who was there will remember, as I do, that these guys,... these guys, where "THE Chargers." To this day, as far as I am concerned, those guys, are the "real Chargers" and it saddens me greatly to think that we've lost one of the best. In fact, when they won in 63, I think the NFL champions were the Chicago Bears. Coach Halas of the Bears had to admit that the Chargers where the real deal, a real football team and probably a worthy opponent for his Bears should there ever be some sort of "world championship" game between the AFL and the NFL.

There was a sports writer back in the early 60's who has a column on the left hand side of the San Diego Union sports page. His name was Jack Murphy. We had a tradition in my family that I would read Mr. Murphy's column aloud at the breakfast table every Monday morning. My parents partly liked it I think because it made me read and I hated reading in school. I liked it because I learned to appreciate Mr. Murphy's wit and obvious love of the Chargers, including their coach and players. I can still remember to this day reading an article about Big Ernie Ladd stopping somewhere for breakfast, like Alpine.... my memory is a bit fuzzy (give a break, its been nearly 50 years since I read the story).. and he ordered like a dozen eggs, etc. etc... we laughed and laughed.

I can honestly say that Ernie Ladd was a part of my life. A small part, but a part nonetheless. And I am truly sorry that he is gone now. I'll still see him playing in his 77 uniform in Balboa Stadium with all is Charger teammates and Sid Gillman standing on the sidelines wearing his bow tie.

Those are some great memories...thanks for sharing your thoughts and stories.

jcarrabolt
03-12-2007, 05:11 PM
If my memory serves me right didn't the 1963 team go to the boondocks to train among the rattlesnakes? I believe they were the first team to incorporate weight lifting as part of their training. I believe Sir Sid was the coach and Barron Hilton the owner.

Chargeroo
03-12-2007, 05:34 PM
Very nice post by CharginCharles! Do any of you remember the eating contest Ernie had with some Tuna boat guy at the Del Coronado? That was quite an event back in the 60's.

boltzfolife21
03-12-2007, 07:50 PM
RIP i wish the Ladd family well

IronMountain1960
03-13-2007, 10:35 AM
If my memory serves me right didn't the 1963 team go to the boondocks to train among the rattlesnakes? I believe they were the first team to incorporate weight lifting as part of their training. I believe Sir Sid was the coach and Barron Hilton the owner.
Sid and Ernie didn't see eye to eye on Ladd's contract, and so Ladd left the Chargers. Ernie Ladd would have been in the NFL Hall of Fame, if it wasn't for the fact that he could make more money wrestling. He was the biggest, fastest, strongest DT in pro football, and I don't think there is anyone yet who was his equal. It would be something to see Jamal Williams and Ladd together.
I was a high school DE and OT, when I first saw Ladd, and his strength was super human, the play where he dead lifted a OT over his head and slammed him to the ground was really impressive, the guy was flat on his back, he didn't jump up on Ladd, Ernie just reached down and picked him up, like he weighed 30 pounds. If you look at my avitar, you will see Ernie Ladd blocking out the sun just before he sacks Jack Kemp.
I was almost 6'6" back 1963, and I was at a Laker game being played at Golden Hall at what was back then Cal Western Univ., and felt like I had a small building walking behind me, I looked around and there was Ernie Ladd, he was listed as 6'9", but he was almost 6'10", and he had two huge eyes, one O linemen said he feared playing against Ladd, and looking up and seeing his two 5 pound eyeballs looking at him. I played basketball against 7 footers, yet Earnie Ladd was the biggest man I had ever seen, he was one great player, and he would be a susper star in todays NFL.

Alworth_19
03-13-2007, 11:08 AM
Rip

...


...

El Presidente
03-14-2007, 09:54 AM
Sad Day indeed.

'61 SCARGO
03-14-2007, 11:19 AM
One of my most vivid memories of Ernie Ladd was on Oct.15, 1967. It was the first year of the "State of the Art", brand new, San Diego Stadium. We had just finished playing our Pop Warner game vs Alvarado on the freshly painted turf and the Chargers were now playing the Chiefs. My team sat behind the Chiefs bench in the first row of Field level. I remember watching as Speedy Duncan intercepted a pass at the goal line and took off down the Chiefs sideline. When he got to about the 35 he disappeared behind a sea of red. Guys like Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanon loomed large, but the biggest of them all was "Big Cat", who now wore #99 for the Chiefs instead of the #77 he made famous as a Charger! He was HUGE! Talk about obstructed view!
And I was heartbroken, seeing him in a Chiefs uniform :LightsOut: because besides Alworth, Ernie was my favorite Charger! He was the only guy who I thought could beat up my Dad! ;)
Oh yeah, by the way, Speedy popped out past the Chiefs bench and scored on a 100 yd TD INT. which stood as a Charger record until 20 years later when Vencie Glenn broke it with a 103 yarder.

Rest in Peace, Ernie...It was guys like you, Speedy, Lincoln, Lowe and Bambi that set the foundation for a young impressionable kid to become a LIFELONG, DIEHARD FAN for 46 years...AND COUNTING!!!

Airman Parker
03-14-2007, 11:26 AM
R.I.P. I really appreciate what you did for the chargers and for wrestlin because those are 2 of my favorite things to watch on T.V.