Syracuse University Honors a Fallen Hero

At this season’s first football game, Syracuse University unveiled a statue of Ernie Davis, which will be displayed in the Carrier Dome, the university’s indoor stadium. The statue, sculpted by artist Sharon Locke of Rochester, New York, stands more than six feet high and weighs more than 500 pounds.

Ernie Davis, known by the nickname the Elmira Express, was recruited to play football by more than 50 universities, including Notre Dame. But Davis chose to stay close to home and play at Syracuse. In 1959 Davis led Syracuse to its only national championship in football. He was twice named All-American and in 1961 became the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy, signifying the best player in college football.

Davis was the first player selected in the 1962 National Football League draft. He was scheduled to suit up for the Cleveland Browns with the legendary running back Jim Brown, also a Syracuse alumnus. But prior to the 1962 season, Davis was diagnosed with leukemia. He died the next year, never playing a game of professional football.