Football Fans at West Virginia University Say They Were Smeared in New Movie on Ernie Davis

In 1961 Ernie Davis was the first African-American football player to win the Heisman Trophy. Davis played for Syracuse University from 1959 to 1961. He led Syracuse to the 1959 national championship and Davis was twice named All-American. Davis was the first pick in the spring 1962 National Football League draft. But he was diagnosed with leukemia and died a year later at the age of 23. He never played one game of professional football.

The life and tragic death of Ernie Davis is the subject of the new movie The Express. The film has generally received rave reviews but some people in Morgantown, West Virginia, are not too happy with the filmmakers. A scene in the movie shows Davis playing in a game at West Virginia University in 1959. West Virginia fans are shown yelling racial slurs and throwing garbage at Davis.

The problem is that Syracuse didn’t play West Virginia in 1959. Davis and Syracuse did play a game in Morgantown in 1960 but players on both teams have stated that there were no racial incidents. Dick Easterly, the Syracuse quarterback, told the Charleston Daily Mail, “I don’t blame the people of West Virginia for being disturbed. The scene is completely fictitious.”