A highly talented college basketball and football player out of Grambling State University, Ernie Ladd, who stood 6'9" and weighed 315 pounds, was picked by the San Diego Chargers in the 1961 American Football League (AFL) draft. After helping lead the Chargers to three AFL championship games and the AFL title in 1963, Ladd played a season with the Houston Oilers and two seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs before embarking full time on his professional wrestling career (which at the time was more lucrative than his pro football career).
Over the years, Ladd evolved into one of wrestling's most notorious heels and feuded with the likes of Andre the Giant (whom he often referred to as "Andre the Dummy"), Junkyard Dog, Ray Candy and Paul Orndorff. He also managed the Wild Samoans and was "Bad" Leroy Brown's tag-team partner in the early 1980s. After retiring from the ring in 1986, Ladd opened Big Cat Ernie Ladd's "Throwdown" BBQ Restaurant in New Orleans. The restaurant was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Ladd, who died of colon cancer in 2007 at the age of 68, was the only man ever elected to both the AFL Hall of Fame and the WWE Hall of Fame.