15 gridiron greats in WWE history

Ernie Ladd

Ernie Ladd

A four-time all-star in the American Football League before the AFL merged with the NFL, Ernie Ladd was known as the largest player in the professional game, but over the span of his more than two decades ruling sports-entertainment, Ernie Ladd was known best as “Big Cat.” Ladd, a member of the 1995 WWE Hall of Fame class (HALL OF FAME PROFILE), tore down racial barriers in an era struggling to distance itself from segregation, and his powerful oratory skills established “Big Cat” as one of the most fascinating interviews of his day.

Ladd is also noteworthy for being one of the squared circle’s first true giants — a matter that caused more than passing hostilities between “Big Cat” and a certain 7-foot-4 Frenchman named Andre. (WATCH) Ladd stood 6-foot-9 and his boots measured a staggering size 18 — that qualified him to be called “big.” As for the “cat” part of his moniker, Ladd didn’t take that part so literally. There was no hissing or purring when Ladd wrestled, and his plain trunks weren’t calico-patterned, but you did not want to get in the way of his swatting paw. (PHOTOS)