Born: Nov. 28, 1938 in Orange, Texas
Died: March 10, 2007
Legendary defensive tackle Ernie Ladd starred at Grambling before beginning a stormy eight year career in the AFL.
Ladd played for the San Diego Chargers from 1961 to 1965, during which time which he played in three AFL championship games and was twice named All-AFL. Ladd spent the 1966 season playing for the Houston Oilers before moving to the Kansas City Chiefs for two years in 1967.
Ladd combined was immensely strong and agile, with a fearsome temper. He fought with management over his salary and with the league office over his right to wear a beard.
At 6'9" and 315 pounds, Ladd was the biggest player throughout the 1960s. With Buck Buchanan of Kansas City, a former Grambling teammate, he formed what was probably the biggest defensive tackle combination in history. Buchanan was 6'7" and weighed 275 pounds.
Ladd's appetite, it would seem, is in proportion to his weight. At a charity pancake-eating contest in 1965, he ate 124 pancakes topped with 6 containers of syrup. That Ladd didn't win was probably due to the fact that he was competing alone against two-man teams. Ladd claimed he started late and was "only four pancakes behind at the end."
Ladd became a professional wrestler initially as a publicity stunt. He was billed at "The Big Cat" or "The King" and was famously matched up against Andre the Giant, Mr. Universe, and Dusty Rhodes. During his career as a wrestler, Ladd was one of the top "heels" (villains) in the business. Often when Ladd appeared to be in serious trouble during a match he'd walk out of the arena and accept a countout loss, known since as "pulling an Ernie Ladd". He was inducted into the WCW Hall of Fame in 1994 and the WWF Hall of Fame class of 1995, becoming the first (and for several years only) inductee in both halls.