Ernie Wheelwright
refer to caption
Wheelwright in 1965
No. 30, 39
Position:Running back
Personal information
Born:(1939-11-28)November 28, 1939
Columbus, Ohio
Died:May 1, 2001(2001-05-01) (aged 61)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Career information
High school:Columbus (OH) Central
College:Southern Illinois
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Rushing attempts-yards:387-1426
Player stats at

Ernest Lamour 'Wheels' Wheelwright (November 28, 1939 – May 1, 2001) was an American football player. He attended Southern Illinois University.

He had several careers but is chiefly remembered as an American football player who played as a running back for the New York Giants (1964–65), Atlanta Falcons (1966–67) and the New Orleans Saints (1967–70).

He was also an actor who appeared in a number of films including: The Longest Yard (1974), Trackdown (1976), The Greatest (1977) & Wildcats (1986). Immediately before he began his career as a running back he had served in the 101st Airborne Division(a.k.a. the Screaming Eagles).[1]

Ernie Wheelwright was also owner of one of Atlanta's premier nightclubs in the 1960s, the Pink Pussycat Club.[2] 'Wheels' hosted many visiting black artists and had the opportunity to cut a record 'Beggin You Back' for the local Gaye label owned by Johnny Brooks.[3][note 1] In 1970 the NFL asked Wheelwright, then with the New Orleans Saints, to sell his interest on the grounds that continuing ownership would bring the NFL into disrepute.[4]

Ernie Wheelwright died of cancer in Las Vegas on May 1, 2001, aged 61.


Year Title Role Notes
1974 The Longest Yard Spooner
1976 Trackdown Rosey
1977 The Greatest Bossman Jones


  1. ^ J T. Brooks who was also an engineer and record producer had opened his own facility in Atlanta in 1964. Wheelwright's disc was one of at least eight on Gaye. In addition Brooks was owner of the gospel label Sounds of Atlanta whose roster included Little Jimmy Dempsey, Big Chief Weatherington, the Soul Searchers and The Blackwood Singers.


  1. ^ Sports Illustrated, 19th Hole, Readers comments, June 15, 1970
  2. ^ Roy Powers "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-12-07. Retrieved 2010-05-31.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Sir Shambling Deep Soul Website
  4. ^ Sports Illustrated, This Saint has been called a sinner, June 1, 1970