Warlick was a member of the 1964 and 1965 AFL championship teams, catching a touchdown pass from Jack Kemp in the ’65 title game for the only offensive touchdown in a 23-0 victory over the San Diego Chargers.

He was selected to the American Football League all-star team in each of his four seasons with the Bills.

“He was a good target for Jack, and if there was anything of a sure-handed catcher, it was Ernie,” said former teammate Charlie Ferguson. “He was that type of athlete.”

Off the field, Warlick was a humble and stable presence in the Bills locker room. He was an older player with a family when he came to Buffalo, and the other players looked to him for leadership and guidance, Edgerson said.

“Ernie came in as a very mature player,” said Ferguson. “He was just a good person, and he knew how to get along with people. That’s why I use the word ‘mature,’ because he really knew how to deal with everyone.”

“Ernie was a big brother to me,” Rutkowski said. “When you’re a family like the Buffalo Bills, the friendships you made during those days last a lifetime. We’re really going to miss him.”

Born and raised in Hickory, N.C., Warlick attended segregated schools before the dawn of the civil rights movement. He graduated from North Carolina Central University, where he starred in football and basketball, before serving four years in the military and playing four seasons in Canada.

After Warlick retired from the Bills, he briefly took up sportscasting at Channel 2, becoming the first African-American sportscaster in Western New York.

He was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 1998, when he reminisced about going out to do speaking engagements during the Bills’ early days.

“A lot of times I was the only black person present,” he said during his induction. “And I would thank the people for allowing me to come and add some color to the event. I was thinking of that line tonight, as the first black sports announcer on Buffalo television.

“There always has to be someone to break the barrier, and I broke the barrier. But after all, you still need a little color in this room. I’m just elated to be given such an honor.”

Warlick owned a Henry’s Hamburger franchise on Main Street for a while, and was regional sales manager for Chromate Industrials of Long Island.

He also was active in the Buffalo Bills alumni organization.

Throughout, Warlick continued to make his home in Buffalo, and people often asked him why.

“I didn’t make enough money to get a flight back home,” Warlick cracked.

“He stayed here because the people were great; the fans were great,” Edgerson said.

Survivors include his wife of nearly 52 years, the former Louise Alexander; two sons, Chester and Christopher; a daughter, Lynn Warlick-Sloof; and a sister, Sally.

[A memorial service was held on November 24th at Randall Memorial Baptist Church, 6301 Main St., Amherst.  I was privileged to make the remarks below]