Category Archives: Ernie Ladd
In a fun reminiscence for The San Diego Union-Tribune, columnist Logan Jenkins detailed a great story about the Golden West Eating Classic which was held to raise money for Children’s Hospital in 1963. Famed Charger eater and defensive lineman Ernie Ladd faced Nick Cordileone, “a genial 48-year-old, 270-pound fisherman known up and down the Pacific as the most prodigious eater of the tuna fleet.”
I recently picked up this photo of Chargers defensive lineman, Ernie Ladd. Ladd has always been kind of a mythical AFL figure, with his size, boisterous personality and wrestling career all adding to the total package. I liked this particular image because although it is undated, it must have been taken early in Ladd’s time with the Chargers. Rather than wearing the #77 that he did in San Diego, Ladd is shown in a #71 jersey, which I took to mean that he was using it either strictly for a photo opportunity, or it was his practice jersey. As a means of cutting costs, AFL teams often practiced in their game uniforms from the season before. In this instance, Ladd’s #71 is a 1960 Los Angeles Chargers jersey, probably worn during games by defensive lineman, Dick Chorovich.
It would have been a big one. San Diego Chargers defensive stars Earl Faison and Ernie Ladd to the Houston Oilers in exchange for John Baker, Gary Cutsinger and Pete Jaquess. The Oilers would receive a dominant pass rush, and the Chargers in return would get three fine defenders. The deal was signed and sealed, but was blocked in the delivery, by AFL Commissioner Joe Foss.
Faison and Ladd had long been frustrated with the Chargers and their head coach, Sid Gillman. As a result, both perennial all-stars decided to play out their options in 1965, and see what they could get on the open market. Their impending free agency offered the team that could sign both, an opportunity to add an immeasurable upgrade to their defensive line. Though seemingly out of the running, Gillman and the Chargers held out hope that they could resign the towering defenders and keep their defensive squad intact.
At 6’9″ and somewhere around 325 lbs, it should not be a surprise to anyone that Ernie Ladd knew his way around the dinner table. A San Diego Chargers press release from 1961 discusses Ladd dining with Larry Fox of the World Telegram, and mentions Big Ernie’s consumption for the meal, which consisted of two shrimp cocktails, three dishes of cole slaw, three servings of spinach, three baked potatoes, eight rolls with butter, a half-gallon of milk, four 16-ounce steaks and three exotic desserts. The bean counters at the World-Telegram undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows when Larry Fox turned in that receipt for reimbursement.