Ron Holmes, a former star defensive lineman at Washington who played eight seasons in the NFL, has died.

Share story

Ron Holmes, an All-America defensive lineman at the University of Washington in 1984 who played eight years in the NFL, died early Thursday.

Holmes, who was 48, had been battling diabetes and coronary issues, according to Mike Michael, a friend and owner of A&E Relocation Services in Olympia, where Holmes worked. Holmes, who was living in DuPont, is survived by two children.

Holmes was a 1981 graduate of Timberline High in Lacey and was signed at UW initially as a linebacker before growing into a lineman.

He started five games in 1982 and then all 12 in 1983 and 1984, named to the All Pac-10 first team each of his last two years. He was named in 1984 as the winner of the Morris Trophy, awarded annually to the best offensive and defensive linemen in the Pac-10 as voted on by other linemen in the conference. He was also UW’s team MVP in 1984, for a team that finished 11-1 and was ranked No. 2 in the country after beating Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

When Holmes left, he was the school’s all-time leader in sacks with 28, a record broken in 2009 by Daniel Te’o-Nesheim with 30. He also tied the school record for sacks in one game with five in 1983 against Navy.

He finished his UW career with a standout performance against Oklahoma when the Huskies upset the Sooners 28-17.

Holmes said in 2002 the players never doubted they could win that game.

“When you go on a football field and do battle, you have to believe in your leaders, and we always believed in coach (Don) James and the guys who surrounded him,” he said. “They put in a game plan that was easy for us to buy into. The nation didn’t believe that we could beat Oklahoma, but as a team, the coaches knew that we could.”

James recalled Thursday that Holmes was a standout high-school basketball player and that “he had that good athletic ability and then he came here and he just got bigger and stronger. What a great player. He was a good kid and a good team player.”

Holmes was drafted in the first round by Tampa Bay and spent four years there before moving on to Denver in 1989 and playing four seasons for the Broncos.

He started for Denver at defensive end in Super Bowl XXIV, a game the Broncos lost to the San Francisco 49ers 55-10.

“We got blown out, but I’ve had a ton of other guys ask me what that experience was like,” Holmes said in 2002. “There’s only two teams left standing at the end, and if you get shot down in the final gunfight, it sure beats coming out of the bunker and getting blown up on the first one.”