|Birth Day:||December 14, 1939|
|Death Date:||May 18, 1963 (age 23)|
|Birth Place:||New Salem-buffington, United States|
As per our current Database, Ernie Davis died on May 18, 1963 (age 23).
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He was bigger than most kids on his youth football squads, so rather than tackling them, he picked them up off the ground until the whistle sounded.
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 been the southernmost team in the league for a quarter century). 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 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 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 was the number-one pick in the 1962 NFL Draft on December 4, 1961. Selected by the Washington Redskins, he was traded to the Cleveland Browns. He was also drafted two days earlier by the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League.
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:
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. The disease was incurable and Davis died at age 23 at Cleveland Lakeside Hospital on May 18, 1963.
Davis was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
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 playing 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.
A motion picture biography, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, 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.
In 2011, rival schools Southside High School (Elmira, New York) and Elmira Free Academy combined their athletic teams, which together were renamed the Elmira Express, named after Ernie Davis.
Currently, Ernie Davis is 82 years, 7 months and 27 days old. Ernie Davis will celebrate 83rd birthday on a Wednesday 14th of December 2022.
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