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Special Ernie Davis Section - December 8, 2001     
The Elmira Express
Forty years ago, a halfback nicknamed the Elmira Express won the Heisman Trophy, an award that recognizes the outstanding college football player in the nation.
The Ernie I knew
This column was first published on May 19, 1963, the day after Ernie Davis died of leukemia at age 23.
Glory days
On the football field he ran into history; his character and untimely passing engraved his name on the heart of Elmira.
Even in death, Davis became symbol of hope
Two stories echoed throughout my childhood in Elmira.
Other topics of conversation came and went, but these two stuck.
A national title at SU
Davis led Orange to their only championship and fit right in to a line of legendary backs.
A Cotton Bowl performance for the ages
Ernie Davis' performance in the 1960 Cotton Bowl earned him induction this year into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame.
Davis' Heisman was second-closest ever
Ernie Davis was the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy. A 6-foot-2, 212-pound left halfback, he was Syracuse's leading ground-gainer for three seasons.
Ernie's trophy briefly stolen
Ernie Davis' Heisman Trophy was stolen in 1976 from its display case at Syracuse University's Manley Field House.
History of the Heisman
The Heisman Memorial Trophy is presented each year by the Downtown Athletic Club of New York to the outstanding college football player in the nation.
Harrigan guided the Express
If not for an ankle injury to a high school teammate, Ernie Davis might never have won the Heisman Trophy.
At EFA, a hoops star, too
Ernie Davis was a three-sport star at Elmira Free Academy who seemed destined for stardom at a higher level in either football, basketball or baseball.
No. 44 became legendary
Mention Syracuse University football, and most fans automatically think of the number 44.
Davis experienced racial tensions
Ernie Davis never talked much about the problems he faced as a black man, particularly when he played in the South.
Cleveland controversy
Davis never played a down for the Browns, but his impact shook the historic NFL team.
Pro contract was rookie record
Ernie Davis signed his only pro football contract with the Cleveland Browns in 1961, but it wasnt until 18 years later that the details became public.
'Either you fight or you give up'
"I was never in pain," Ernie Davis wrote, "and I never felt sick. That was the hardest part."
The disease that killed him
Ernie Davis suffered from acute monocytic leukemia.
How we remember Ernie Davis
Ernie also shined off the field
Stories abound of his exemplary character and humility.
Memories

Credits

- Section editor: Roger Neumann
- Writers: John P. Cleary, Jim Pfiffer, Roderick Boone, Stephen P. Jensen
- Section designer: Keith Kraska
- Cover photo: Jeff Richards (from a photo on display at Elmira Free Academy)


Thanks

Many thanks to all who contributed to this section, especially those readers who shared their memories of Ernie Davis.

Special thanks to Al Mallette, retired sports editor of the Star-Gazette, for his column and for answering our many calls for help with the research.

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