Ernie Warlick, one of the AFL’s forerunners as a pass catching tight end in the 1960s with the Buffalo Bills, has died at the age of 80. ESPN reports his death came after a brief illness and was confirmed by Amigone Funeral Home in Amherst, N.Y.
His cause of death was not released but his friend and teammate with the Buffalo Bills, Booker Edgerson, said Sunday that Warlick had been hospitalized over the past two weeks after complaining of shoulder pain.
Fox Sports reported that Warlick earned perhaps the best name a man who caught passes for a living could hope to earn — “Hands.” He played on two AFL championship teams with the Bills in the 1960s but started out with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Warlick was a CFL All-Star three times in five seasons as a receiver and defensive back. As a tight end, he was named an American Football League All-Star in each of his four seasons in the AFL from 1962 to 1965.
In college Warlick was a standout at North Carolina Central where he also played basketball.
Ernie Warlick became a Buffalo staple after his playing days. He became a television broadcaster and later opened a hamburger stand before landing a job in sales.
”He’s going to be fondly remembered, and it was a great loss,” said Edgerson.
Warlick finished his four-year AFL career with 90 catches for 1,551 yards and four touchdowns at a time when very few tight ends were being used in a receiving role. One of Warlick’s four touchdowns was an 18-yard touchdown pass to open the scoring in Buffalo’s 23-0 victory over San Diego in the 1965 AFL Championship game.
Ernie Warlick is survived by his wife, Louise,as well as three children and five grandchildren.