Davis played college football for Syracuse University and was the first pick in the 1962 NFL Draft. Selected by the Washington Redskins of the National Football League (NFL) in December 1961, he was then almost immediately traded to the Cleveland Browns and issued number 45.
Davis was diagnosed with leukemia in the summer of 1962, and died less than a year later at age 23, without ever playing in a professional game. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979, and was the subject of the 2008 Universal Pictures film The Express, based on the non-fiction book Ernie Davis: The Elmira Express, by Robert C. Gallagher.
|Born:||December 14, 1939|
New Salem, Pennsylvania
|Died:||May 18, 1963 (aged 23)|
|Height:||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|Weight:||212 lb (96 kg)|
|High school:||Elmira (NY) Free Academy|
|NFL Draft:||1962 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1|
|AFL draft:||1962 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4|
|Career highlights and awards|
Davis was born in New Salem, Pennsylvania. His father was killed in an accident shortly after his birth, and his mother, Avis Marie Davis Fleming, could not raise him alone. At fourteen months, he was cared for by his maternal grandparents, Willie and Elizabeth Davis, in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. At age 12, he went to live with his mother and stepfather in Elmira, New York, where he excelled in baseball, basketball, and football in grade school. He attended Elmira Free Academy, where he earned two All-American honors. At the end of his senior season he was recruited by numerous colleges, and chose to attend Syracuse University after being persuaded by Jim Brown, a Syracuse alumnus.
Davis played football for coach Ben Schwartzwalder at Syracuse University from 1959 to 1961, and went on to national fame in each of those three seasons, twice winning first-team All-American honors. As a sophomore, Davis led the 1959 Syracuse team to a national championship, capping an 11–0 season with a 23–14 win over the Texas Longhorns in the 1960 Cotton Bowl Classic, where Davis was named Most Valuable Player. That same season, Elmira Star-Gazette sports writer Al Mallette coined the nickname for Davis, the "Elmira Express". In his junior year, 1960, he set a record of 7.8 yards per carry and was the third leading rusher in the country with 877 yards, having rushed for 100 yards in six of nine games. The 1960 Syracuse Orangemen finished with a record of 7–2 and did not play in a post-season bowl game. In Ernie's senior year, the 1961 Orangemen finished with a record of 8–3, closing the season with a 15–14 victory over the Miami Hurricanes in the Liberty Bowl, played at Philadelphia's Franklin Field. College football used limited substitution rules at the time and players played both offense and defense.
Davis found discrimination prevalent in the American South during his Cotton Bowl visit to host city Dallas, Texas. Author Jocelyn Selim writes that at the banquet following the 1960 game, Davis was told he could only accept his award and then would be required to leave the segregated facility. Davis and his black teammates were allowed to finish their meals at the banquet. When dessert was brought, a gentleman quietly approached them and told them they would have to leave when the doors were opened to the public for a dance. The three got up to leave and when the teammates found out, they wanted to leave too, but were told that it would only cause a bigger problem, so they stayed.
A different account of the banquet is given by John Brown. He was Davis' teammate at Syracuse and on the Cleveland Browns, his roommate and a close friend. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, all the players from the game attended the banquet. Brown recalls that the teams sat on opposite sides of the room. After everyone ate and the trophies were handed out, the three black Syracuse players, including Brown and Davis were asked to leave and were taken to another party in Dallas by local NAACP representatives. One Syracuse player, Gerhard Schwedes, recommended that the whole Syracuse team leave the banquet to show solidarity with their black teammates, but the suggestion was overruled by Syracuse officials. When the Chronicle asked Brown whether the film is a truthful portrayal of his friend, Brown said " ... in short, no."
Davis became the first black athlete to be awarded the Heisman Trophy (the highest individual honor in collegiate football) and he also won the Walter Camp Memorial Trophy following his 1961 senior-year season at Syracuse University. President John F. Kennedy had followed Davis' career and requested to meet him while he was in New York to receive the trophy. Later in 1963, when Elmira chose February 3 to celebrate Davis' achievements, Kennedy sent a telegram, reading:
Seldom has an athlete been more deserving of such a tribute. Your high standards of performance on the field and off the field, reflect the finest qualities of competition, sportsmanship and citizenship. The nation has bestowed upon you its highest awards for your athletic achievements. It's a privilege for me to address you tonight as an outstanding American, and as a worthy example of our youth. I salute you.
During his time at Syracuse, Davis wore the same number, 44, as had legendary Orangeman Jim Brown, helping to establish a tradition at the school that was acknowledged on November 12, 2005, when the school retired the number in an on-field ceremony. After winning the Heisman Trophy, Ernie Davis talked Floyd Little into doing an about face and play football for Syracuse instead of Notre Dame. Davis also played basketball at Syracuse for one season 1960-1961. Syracuse University, as a way to honor all of the athletes that have worn the number 44, was granted permission by the United States Postal Service to change its zip code to 13244.
While attending Syracuse, Davis was a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity, a nationally recognized Jewish fraternity. Davis was the first African-American to become part of the organization not only at the Syracuse chapter, but for the national fraternity as a whole.
Davis was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
Davis was a member of The Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C. National Intercollegiate All-American Football Players Honor.
Davis was the number-one pick in the 1962 NFL Draft. Selected by the Washington Redskins, he was traded to the Cleveland Browns. He was also drafted by the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League.
Redskins founder and owner George Preston Marshall was an avowed racist who kept the Redskins entirely white long after the other teams had integrated. He openly admitted that his unwillingness to sign a black player was an effort to appeal to his mostly Southern fan base (they had long been the southernmost team in the league). The signing only came when Interior Secretary Stewart Udall issued an ultimatum to Marshall: sign a black player by the start of the 1962 season, or he would revoke the Redskins' 30-year lease on D.C. Stadium (now Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium). The stadium was a city-owned facility, and the Washington city government has long been legally reckoned as a branch of the federal government (given that the Constitution gives Congress ultimate authority over the capital). Marshall could not bring himself to draft a black player, so he left the decision to general manager and head coach Bill McPeak, who picked Davis. Davis refused to play for the Redskins and demanded a trade. A deal with Cleveland was engineered by Browns coach Paul Brown without the knowledge and consent of the owner Art Modell. This had been standard operating procedure with the Browns from their inception in 1946; Brown served as his own general manager, and had enjoyed a free hand in football matters. The Redskins traded the rights to Davis to the Cleveland Browns for Bobby Mitchell and first-round draft pick Leroy Jackson. Davis chose to go to the Cleveland Browns where his classmate John Brown would be his roommate and Jim Brown, whom he admired, was already playing.
Davis signed a three-year, $200,000 contract with the Browns in late December 1961 in San Francisco while preparing for the East-West Shrine Game. Originally reported at $80,000, the contract, according to Davis's attorney, Tony DeFilippo, consisted of $80,000 for playing football, including a $15,000 signing bonus; $60,000 for ancillary rights, such as image marketing; and $60,000 for off-season employment. It was the most lucrative contract for an NFL rookie up to that time.
The Browns' dream of pairing Davis with Jim Brown took a tragic turn when Davis was diagnosed with leukemia. The rift between Coach Brown and Modell worsened when Modell brought in doctors who said Davis was well enough to play and Brown still refused to allow it. Although Davis's leukemia was in remission at the time, Brown felt letting him play would hurt team morale. This contributed to Modell's decision to replace Brown before the 1963 season.
Davis was allowed to practice on the field without physical contact and helped Brown draw up game plans but he never played a meaningful down. His only appearance at Cleveland Stadium came at a pre-season game on August 18, in which he ran onto the field as a spotlight followed him. Following his death, the Browns retired his number 45 jersey.
While preparing to play in the College All-Star Game against the Green Bay Packers in Chicago in the summer of 1962, Davis awoke with a swollen neck and was hospitalized, with mumps or mononucleosis initially suspected. He was diagnosed with acute monocytic leukemia and began receiving medical treatment. Davis went to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore when he was dying, three months after being diagnosed and through chemical treatments experienced a four to five month remission. That was the time that the controversy between Paul Brown and Art Modell took place. The disease was incurable and Davis died at age 23 at Cleveland Lakeside Hospital on May 18, 1963.
Both houses of the United States Congress eulogized Davis, and a wake was held at The Neighborhood House in Elmira, New York, where more than 10,000 mourners paid their respects. During the funeral, a message was received from President Kennedy, and was read aloud to all of the people attending the service. Davis is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira. His commemorative statue now stands in front of the school named in his honor, Ernie Davis Academy. Another statue of Davis stands on the campus of Syracuse University, near the steps of Hendricks Chapel and the Quad where pre-game pep rallies are held. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in the fall of 1979, coinciding with the premiere of The Express and the beginning of construction of Ernie Davis Hall, a Syracuse dormitory.
A motion picture biography, The Express, directed by Gary Fleder and based on the non-fiction book The Elmira Express: the Story of Ernie Davis by Robert C. Gallagher, began production in April 2007 and was released on October 10, 2008. Rob Brown plays Davis, with Dennis Quaid portraying Davis' Syracuse University coach, Ben Schwartzwalder.
The 1959 Syracuse Orangemen football team represented Syracuse University in the 1959 college football season. Led by eleventh-year head coach Ben Schwartzwalder, the independent Orangemen were undefeated and won the school's only national championship in football, topping the rankings by wide margins in the final polls in early December.They met fourth-ranked Texas in the Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas on New Year's Day, and led 15–0 at halftime and 23–6 after the three quarters. Texas scored midway through the fourth quarter to draw to 23–14, but there was no further scoring, and Syracuse gained its first bowl win. Unranked at the start of the season, Syracuse finished with an 11–0 record with five shutouts, and outscored its opponents 413–73.
Notable players included sophomore running back Ernie Davis, winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1961 and the first selection of the 1962 NFL Draft. In the Cotton Bowl Classic, he scored the first two touchdowns and threw a pass to Gerhard Schwedes for the third. Davis was helped by an offensive line that included unanimous first team All-American guard Roger Davis.1960 Cotton Bowl Classic
The 1960 Cotton Bowl Classic matched the Syracuse Orangemen and the Texas Longhorns.1960 Syracuse Orangemen football team
The 1960 Syracuse Orangemen football team represented Syracuse University in the 1960 college football season. The Orangemen were led by 12th-year head coach Ben Schwartzwalder and played their home games at Archbold Stadium in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse finished the regular season with a record of 7–2 and ranked 19th in the AP Poll. They were not invited to a bowl game.
Junior halfback Ernie Davis continued to garner national attention, earning consensus All-American honors while rushing for 877 yards and 8 touchdowns.1961 Liberty Bowl
The 1961 Liberty Bowl was a college football postseason bowl game that featured the Syracuse Orangemen and the Miami Hurricanes.1961 Syracuse Orangemen football team
The 1961 Syracuse Orangemen football team represented Syracuse University during the 1961 college football season. The Orangemen were led by 13th-year head coach Ben Schwartzwalder and played their home games at Archbold Stadium in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse finished the regular season with a record of 7–3 and ranked 14th in the final AP Poll. Running back Ernie Davis rushed for 823 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to his second straight consensus All-American honors. Davis became the first African-American football player to win the Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the nation's best college football player each year. Syracuse was invited to the 1961 Liberty Bowl, where they defeated Miami (FL).1962 Buffalo Bills season
The 1962 Buffalo Bills season was the team’s third season in the American Football League. The Bills finished the season with a 7–6–1 record, third place in the AFL East; it was the Bills' first-ever season finishing with a winning record.
The Bills lost their first five games of the season, but finished the final nine games with only one loss (and one tie).1962 Washington Redskins season
The 1962 Washington Redskins season was the franchise's 31st season in the National Football League (NFL) and their 26th in Washington, D.C.. The team tried to improve on their 1–12–1 record from 1961 and did by making it 5-7-2.Art Baker (gridiron football)
Arthur R. Baker (born December 31, 1937) was a collegiate and professional American football player. He played college football at Syracuse University, where he was an All-American fullback in the backfield with Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis. He was also an NCAA wrestling champion at Syracuse in 1959, becoming only the second African-American to win an NCAA wrestling title. The only college athlete to win division one titles in two different sports in the same year 1959. He played professionally in the American Football League (AFL) for the Buffalo Bills in 1961 and 1962. He then went to the Canadian Football League (CFL), where he played four seasons, mainly for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Baker lives in Miami Florida.Ben Schwartzwalder
Floyd Benjamin Schwartzwalder (June 2, 1909 – April 28, 1993) was a Hall of Fame football coach at Syracuse University, where he trained future National Football League stars such as Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, Floyd Little and Ernie Davis, the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy.
Schwartzwalder played center at West Virginia University, despite weighing only 146 pounds, and was an all-campus wrestler in 1930 in the 155-pound weight class. He was captain of the football team in 1933.Elmira City School District
Elmira City School District is a school district in Elmira, New York. The district serves the city of Elmira and the towns of Ashland, Baldwin, Erin, Pine City, Southport, and Wellsburg (including the hamlet of Lowman).
It operates these schools below:
Fassett Elementary School
Thomas Beecher Elementary School
Hendy Elementary School
Pine City Elementary School
Diven Elementary School
Riverside Elementary Schoosy
Broadway Elementary School
Coburn Elementary School
Ernie Davis Academy
Elmira High SchoolElmira Free Academy
Elmira Free Academy, or EFA, is one of the two high schools—opposite of its arch rival Southside High School—in Elmira, New York, United States. It is one of seven public high schools serving Chemung county. (Waverly, Spencer-Van Etten and Odessa-Montour are outside Chemung County, but serve students from Chemung County). As of 2007, EFA had an enrollment of 1,047 students, with a faculty that included 67 full-time teachers and many other instructors, administrators, and support staff.The metro-area surrounding EFA was both economically and racially diverse, traits reflected in the student body. 77% of the student body is White, 20% is Black, 2% Hispanic, less than 1% Asian or Pacific Islander, and less than 1% Native American. Also, 38% of the student body qualified for free or reduced lunches, a percentage significantly higher than the state average of 17%.Ernest Davis
Ernest Davis may refer to:
Ernie Davis (1939–1963), American football running back
Ernest Davis (brewer) (1872–1962), New Zealand brewer and Mayor of Auckland
Ernest D. Davis, mayor of Mount Vernon, New YorkEverard Davis
Everard Inseal "Tiny" Davis (2 January 1912 – 25 October 2005) was an English sprint athlete who competed in the 1934 British Empire Games.
He was born in Worthing.
At the 1934 Empire Games he was a member of the English relay team which won the gold medal in the 4×110 yards event.John Brown (offensive tackle)
John C. Brown (born June 9, 1939) is a former American football tackle who played ten seasons for two National Football League (NFL) teams, the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He played tackle at Syracuse University alongside Ernie Davis.
Brown played high school football at Camden High School in his hometown.In the 2008 movie The Express, Ernie's best friend and roommate is Jack Buckley (Omar Benson Miller), a huge lineman who's called "JB". The character is based on Brown.List of Washington Redskins first-round draft picks
In American football, the Washington Redskins joined the National Football League in 1932 as the Boston Braves. In 1933, the name was changed to the Boston Redskins, and finally, in 1937 the Redskins moved to Washington, D.C. The Redskins' first selection as an NFL team was Riley Smith, a blocking back from Alabama. The team's most-recent first-round selection was Jonathan Allen, a defensive lineman from Alabama.
Every year during April, each NFL franchise seeks to add new players to its roster through a collegiate draft known as the "NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting", which is more commonly known as the NFL Draft. Teams are ranked in inverse order based on the previous season's record, with the worst record picking first, and the second worst picking second and so on. The two exceptions to this order are made for teams that appeared in the previous Super Bowl; the Super Bowl champion always picks 32nd, and the Super Bowl loser always picks 31st. Teams have the option of trading away their picks to other teams for different picks, players, cash, or a combination thereof. Thus, it is not uncommon for a team's actual draft pick to differ from their assigned draft pick, or for a team to have extra or no draft picks in any round due to these trades.The Redskins have selected number one overall twice: Harry Gilmer and Ernie Davis. The team has also selected number two overall three times and number three overall five times. The Redskins have selected players from the University of Alabama four times, the University of Miami three times, and Penn State University three times. Four eventual Hall of Famers were selected by the Redskins in the first round: Sammy Baugh, Darrell Green, Art Monk, and Charley Taylor.Two Washington Redskins first-round draft picks have died during their football careers. The first was Ernie Davis, who was chosen as the first overall pick in 1962. After being traded to the Cleveland Browns for Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Jackson, Davis was diagnosed with leukemia and died before playing a game with the Browns. The other was Sean Taylor, the Redskins' first round pick in 2004, who was fatally shot in November 2007 during his fourth season with the team.Oyster Bowl
The Oyster Bowl is a regular season college football game played annually in the Hampton Roads-area of Virginia. The game has featured match-ups between high school, NCAA Division III, and at present, NCAA Division I teams at various points in its existence. It is sponsored by the Norfolk, Virginia-based Khedive Temple of the Shriners, with a portion of the revenue going to children's charity. The 2018 Oyster Bowl was the 69th edition of the game; ODU defeated VMI 77–14, in the final game at Foreman Field.
During the first incarnation of the Oyster Bowl, it was held at Foreman Field in Norfolk, Virginia, and with one exception, featured NCAA major college teams. The inaugural Oyster Bowl was held in 1946 between two high schools, the local Granby Comets and the Clifton Mustangs of Clifton, New Jersey.After a brief hiatus, the game was resurrected in 1948 and played continuously until 1995. At that time, the Oyster Bowl was discontinued for financial reasons. The series of games from 1946 to 1995 generated more than $3 million for the Shriners Hospitals for Children.During the 1977 edition between East Carolina and William & Mary, former East Carolina head coach Jim Johnson, who was attending the game as a spectator, tackled a William & Mary player about to score the game-winning touchdown. Many well known players participated in the Oyster Bowl during the time it featured Division I teams. These include Ernie Davis of Syracuse, Don Meredith of SMU, Bruce Smith of Virginia Tech, Roger Staubach of Navy, Fran Tarkenton of Georgia, and Randy White of Maryland.In 1999, the game was revived and relocated to the Joseph S. Darling Memorial Stadium in nearby Hampton, Virginia where the Oyster Bowl now featured a match-up between Division III college teams.In 2011, it was announced that the Oyster Bowl would return to Foreman Field and feature Division I schools once again. Old Dominion University hosted James Madison University in 2011. The Fightin' Blue Hens from the University of Delaware played ODU in 2012. Since ODU joined Conference USA (C-USA) football in 2014 (the school had been a full but non-football C-USA member in the 2013 season), each edition of the game has featured ODU and a C-USA opponent.Racism in sport
Racism in sports has been a prevalent issue throughout the world, and in particular racism towards African-Americans has been especially bad over the course of the history of sports in the United States and around the world.The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) released a report in 2007 claiming that racial abuse and vilification is commonplace in international sports, in places such as Australia, Europe, and America.Syracuse Orange football
The Syracuse Orange, known traditionally as the "Syracuse Orangemen", represent Syracuse University in the sport of American football. The Orange compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).
Formed in 1889, the program has over 700 wins and has achieved 1 consensus Division I Football National Championship, winning the championship game over the Texas Longhorns in the 1960 Cotton Bowl Classic, for the 1959 season. Syracuse has had 2 undefeated seasons, 5 conference championships since 1991, and has produced a Heisman Trophy winner, over 60 first team All-Americans, 18 Academic All-Americans including Academic All-America Hall of Fame inductee Tim Green, and over 240 NFL players. Syracuse has had 18 members inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, 2nd-most in the ACC, including former players Ernie Davis, Tim Green, Don McPherson, Art Monk and former coaches Vic Hanson, Ben Schwartzwalder, and Dick MacPherson. The Orange boast 8 inductees in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame, tied for the 4th-most of any school, including Jim Brown, Marvin Harrison, Larry Csonka, and Floyd Little.The Orange have 26 bowl appearances, 10 of which are among the New Year's Six Bowls. Syracuse has finished in the Final Top 25 rankings 21 times in the national polls, and finished in either the AP or Coaches Polls a combined 35 times since 1952. Syracuse has appeared in over 200 AP Polls including 7 weeks at AP number one.
The Orange play their home games in Carrier Dome on the university's campus. The stadium is also known as "The Loud House", as when it opened in September 1980, it was made clear just how loud it was inside; and so the soon famous nickname was coined.The Express
The Express (also known as The Express: The Ernie Davis Story) is a 2008 American sports film produced by John Davis and directed by Gary Fleder. The storyline was conceived from a screenplay written by Charles Leavitt from a book titled Ernie Davis: The Elmira Express, authored by Robert C. Gallagher. The film is based on the life of Syracuse University football player Ernie Davis, the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy, portrayed by actor Rob Brown. The Express explores civil rights topics, such as racism, discrimination and athletics.The film was a co-production between the film studios of Relativity Media and Davis Entertainment. It was commercially distributed by Universal Pictures theatrically, and by Universal Studios Home Entertainment for home media. Dennis Quaid and Charles S. Dutton star in principal supporting roles. The original motion picture soundtrack with a musical score composed by Mark Isham, was released by the Lakeshore Records label on October 28, 2008.
The Express premiered in theaters nationwide in the United States on October 10, 2008. Despite receiving generally positive reviews from critics, the film was a box office bomb, grossing just $9.8 million against its $40 million budget. The Blu-ray version of the film, featuring deleted scenes and the director's commentary was released on January 20, 2009.
Ernie Davis—championships, awards, and honors