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Rooney: 'Holmes Will Be Missed By Steelers Family'

Officials say Steelers great Ernie Holmes was killed in a vehicle crash near his home in Texas.

(KDKA) One of the original members of the Steelers' Steel Curtain, Ernie Holmes, has died following a one-car accident near Beaumont, Texas, officials say. He was 59.

Holmes, who played for the Steelers from 1972 to 1977, lived in Wiergate, Texas.

In 1971, he was an eighth round pick out of Texas Southern by the Steelers, and finished his career with the New England Patriots in 1978.

He was nicknamed 'Fats' by his teammates.

As a Steeler, Holmes wore the number 63 and played as a defensive tackle. He was once featured on the cover of Time magazine.

A dispatcher with the Texas Department of Public Safety said Holmes was driving alone Thursday night when his car left the roadway and rolled over several times near Lumberton, which is about 70 miles from his home.

Police said he was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

In a statement, Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney says Holmes will be missed and the team's prayers go out to his family.

"We are deeply saddened to learn of the sudden and untimely death of Ernie Holmes," says Rooney. "Ernie was one of the toughest players to ever wear a Steelers uniform. He was a key member of our famous Steel Curtain defense, and many people who played against him considered Ernie almost impossible to block. At his best, he was an intimidating player who even the toughest of opponents did not want to play against."

Stay with KDKA for more one this developing story.

(© MMVIII, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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