Tight end Ernie Warlick played in the American Football League for just four season but he made them count. Warlick, one of the greatest Buffalo Bills to ever put on a uniform, died Saturday at the age of 80.
Warlick joined the Bills in 1962 after spending time in the Canadian Football League. He was 30 when he signed with the Bills but made an instant impact, catching 25 passes for 482 yards in his first season while being named an AFL All-Star. He would receive that honor in each of his four AFL seasons and be named to the Bills 25th anniversary team. (Pete Metzelaars supplanted him on the 50th anniversary squad.)
His 17.2 yards per catch are the best among tight ends in team history while his career numbers don't blow anybody away after just four seasons. He was a member of both AFL Championship teams in 1964 and 1965 before retiring following the second straight victory over the San Diego Chargers in the season finale. He scored the team's first touchdown in the 1965 AFL Championship Game.
In Jim Gehman's Buffalo Bills epic, Then Levy Said to Kelly..., Warlick's reflections on the AFL Championship teams were straightforward: "As they say, we went out there and kicked butts!"
Once he finished his playing career, Warlick made his home in Buffalo like so many former Bills. The Washington, D.C. native was a former president of the Buffalo Bills Alumni Association and gave back to the community, earning the Ralph Wilson Distinguished Service Award in 2000.
Warlick had been in the hospital for the last week according to the Buffalo Bills' website and had been battling health problems for more than a year. Click through the link to read current Alumni Association President Booker Edgerson reflect on his memories of Warlick.