Ex-Bengal Vern Holland dies
Top pick in '71 was 49 years old

Wednesday, April 22, 1998

BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Flamboyant Vernon Holland, the popular quipster who anchored the right side of the Bengals' offensive line for much of the 1970s, died Tuesday of a heart attack in Nashville, Tenn.

Holland, 49, was a No. 1 pick in 1971 out of Tennessee State. He played right tackle in Cincinnati, where he was known for expensive clothes, carrying a briefcase because he considered football serious business, and the nickname "Suki."

On Tuesday night, former teammate Dave Lapham couldn't remember how Holland got that nickname. But he could recall the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Holland handling stand-out defensive ends like Claude Humphrey and John Matuszak.

"He didn't have weight room strength. He had natural body strength," Lapham said.

Lapham, a guard, called Holland, "a colorful personality" who would survey a situation, then sum it up with a funny one-liner. Once, Lapham, who made the offensive line calls, asked Holland why he called him "Judge."

"Because you make the call," Holland told him.

When they lined up, if Holland called, "Hey Judge," Lapham knew Holland was looking for the call.

The Bengals cut Holland before the 1980 season in a semi-surprising move, clearing the way for a rookie named Anthony Munoz.

"He was very gracious about it," Mike Brown said the day of the move. "He said good-bye and thanked us."


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