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Ernie Davis – First Black to Win the Heisman

It’s the last day in February and my last chance to highlight black history for black history month. I chose Ernie “The Elmira Express” Davis. He was the first black man to win the Heisman trophy. I chose Ernie because one of my favorite movies is “The Express” which highlighted his life and career. So, here’s what you need to know about Mr. Davis…

  • Ernie was an athletic prodigy.
  • He played baseball, basketball and football at Elmira Free Academy.
  • He earned high school All-American honors in basketball and football.
  • He led his basketball team to 52 consecutive victories.
  • His first love was football.
  • He was heavily recruited by some of college football’s top programs.
  • However, Jim Brown (NFL great) swayed him to attend his Alma mater.
  • He was a three-time All-American halfback.
  • He led Syracuse University to the national championship as a sophomore.
  • He won the Heisman Trophy in 1961.
  • He was the first black athlete picked in the NFL draft.
  • He never played a pro game because he died at age 23.
  • He died after contracting leukemia.
  • He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

Ernie Davis was an incredible athlete, person and son and we salute him on this last day of Black History Month!



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