BUFFALO, N.Y. – Anyone who ever met Ernie Warlick couldn’t miss the size of his hands. It’s what earned the former Buffalo Bills star his nickname, “Hands,” and helped him become among the forerunners of pro football’s era of pass-catching tight ends.

Warlick, a member of the Bills’ two AFL championship teams in the mid-1960s, died at his home in Williamsville, N.Y., on Saturday after a brief illness. He was 80. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Former teammate Booker Edgerson, a former linebacker who first befriended Warlick in 1962 when they joined the Bills as rookies, said Sunday that Warlick “is going to be fondly remembered, and it was a great loss.”

Born in Washington, D.C., Warlick grew up in North Carolina and became a two-sport star at North Carolina Central University, where he also played basketball. Before signing with Buffalo, Warlick spent five seasons in the Canadian Football League.

In four seasons with the Bills, Warlick finished with 90 catches for 1,551 yards and four TDs. He was a four-time AFL Pro Bowl selection and helped the Bills win AFL titles in 1964 and ’65.