On Saturday, the Syracuse Orange will honor one of the greatest players in their history. Ernie Davis, the late Heisman Trophy winner, will be remembered in with a jersey patch when the current team takes on the Southern California Trojans in East Rutherford, NJ.
Davis, the first African American to win the Heisman, will be honored as part of the 2012 Nike Rivalry Uniform Series. In addition to the No. 44 patch on the Syracuse jerseys, each player will wear a replica Ernie Davis jersey shirt under their uniform and Nike gloves.
The replica Ernie Davis jersey will resemble what Davis wore during his era at Syracuse. The words “The Express”, Davis’ nickname, and the school’s zip code are included as well.
Unfortunately, Davis’ legacy is sold short — despite the recent feature film “The Express” — because his career and life were so brief. The three-time All-American back, two-time bowl game Most Valuable Player, and 1959 National Champion at Syracuse was poised to become one of the greatest backs in Pro Football history.
He was selected by the Cleveland Browns — continuing to follow in the footsteps of another Syracuse back, Jim Brown — in 1962. Sadly, Ernie Davis died just a year later in 1963 of leukemia. He never had the chance to make an impact on the NFL.
While most young fans barely know his name, accomplishments, or transcendent talent, Ernie Davis deserves this day and to be remembered. Hopefully the crew working this game will educate the fans of today about Davis’ legacy.