The Express (2008) Script

21 straight lines, five yards apart, that's a football field.

But there are other lines, ones you don't see, that run deeper and wider, all the way through a country, and aren't part of any game.

Strong load right, 42 shovel pass. On one. On one.

Ready? Break!

Whiskey, whiskey, 33!

Been waiting for this, spook.

I'm gonna kick your black ass back to Africa, boy.

I found another Pepsi.

Pepsi Cola hits the spot

12 full ounces, that's a lot 12 full ounces, that's a lot Twice as much for a nickel, too Twice as much for a nickel, too Pepsi Cola is the drink for you Pepsi Cola is the drink for you

America has been riding the crest of a wave of a peaceful prosperity.

I believe in this world to come.

I think it's going to be a pretty good one.

"When you say 'Budweiser,'

"you've said it all." "You've said it all."

What are you boys doing north of Union Street?

One of you better answer.

Just collecting bottles.

These are our bottles up here.

Hey, guys!

Ain't but one thing to do here.

Ernie, you listening to me?

Ernie, now!


Ernie! Ernie!

This one must be stupid.

I'll tell you what, you give us those bottles and we won't kick your black ass.

Got something to say?



Not only stupid, but retarded.

And a nigger, how sad is that?

Look, you've got three seconds to drop those bottles.




Get him. Get him.

Dear Mr. Martin, it feels strange to write about my life.

I can't tell you the exact moment I knew what it was I wanted to be or how I wanted to make my mark.

Maybe it just felt real good to run, or maybe one day, out of the corner of my eye, I saw tacklers reaching out for me and dropping behind.

Back in 1949, at the age of 10, one thing I did know was, I sure didn't want to be remembered for running too slow.

People in town would always ask, "What you running from?"

Hey, Will!

I didn't know then what I know now, that I wasn't running from, I was running to.

After dinner we gonna have an ice cream eating contest.

What do you say about that?

Yeah, I like it.


First Corinthians 15:10.


Yes, Grandpa.

Why don't you read tonight?

You can do it.


"by the..."

Ernie, take a deep breath.

Okay, now try it again.

"But by the

"grace of God I am what I am.

"And his grace...

"His grace...

"...which was bestowed..."

"...which was bestowed upon me

"was not in vain."

"But I labored more abundantly than they all, "yet not I, "but the grace of God which was with me."

The words, I know they're in there but they don't come out straight all the time.

That'll bring Jackie Robinson up.

He's wearing a Brooklyn Dodgers uniform.

He's Negro and he's playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers?

That's right, boys. That there is Jackie Robinson.

The windup and the delivery.

And the drive deep into left field. And it's a home run!

Jackie Robinson with a home run, his 12th of the year, and the crowd roars at Ebbets Field.

Now what? You gonna stare at it all night?

This here is a man who's doing a lot without saying nothing.

Hey! Hey, Ernie.




It's great to have you back!

So you still got that Chevy? And what year is that?

It's a '39, and you, too, Mama.

A '39 Chevy.

So, Marie, you have some news for us?

Yes, sir. Mama, Daddy,

Ernie, I got married again.

To a very nice man.

The main thing is I can support you now, baby.

I want you to come back and live with me in Elmira.

How far away is Elmira?

It's not far at all, baby. It's just a few hours away.

I think you'll like it.

You gonna love it, baby.

Bye, Will.

Bye, Ernie.

So, I'll see you soon.

Come on, boys. Line up! Line up! I got some new jerseys here for you.

Wait till you see these.

Here you go, Mike, Aaron, Nick.

Patrick, there's one for you.

You been waiting for these, I know it. Here you go, Peewee. Put it on.


I'm sorry, boys. That's all there are.

Don't worry. The other team won't have any trouble recognizing you.

Come on! Huddle!



Just give him the ball.

Ready? Ready!




That your son?

Yes. Yes, it is.

Al Malette, Elmira Star-Gazette.

What's his name?

Ernie. His name is Ernie Davis.

Ernie Davis.


So you're the man who owns Jim Brown.

I own the team. He's his own man. Hey, Jim!

I think you've done enough of that.

Mr. Modell, just a few more?

This is the last time he's gonna be on this field.

You've got plenty, Rex. Boys, thank you very much.

That's good, we got it. Jim, come over here.

All right, fellas. Take a couple like this.

Nice big smile, Jim.

Hey, Jim, you think you're ready?

Right here, Jim, look here. Right here...

So Jim Brown's gonna be wearing a Cleveland Browns jersey.

How's it feel?

It feels right.

Jim? Right here, Jim.

Dan Boyle, Chicago Sun.

You had a terrific year here at Syracuse, Jim.

Seven yards a carry, broke records, took your team to the Cotton Bowl, number one draft choice, signed a big contract.

I'm guessing you're pretty happy with the way things turned out.

I could be happier. You left something out.

You talking about the Heisman Trophy, Jim?

I didn't win that. Actually, no Negro has ever won it.

And you're saying you should have?

Now, if I say that the papers tomorrow will tell the story of the angry Negro who doesn't know his place.

I know my place, gentlemen.

It just may not be where you like it.

Next question.

Hey, Coach. Coach, let me ask you something.

How do you ever expect to replace Jimmy Brown?

Glen Boyd, Cedar Rapids High. Team won state.

He has a C average but a tested IQ of 120.

That means he's lazy.

Ben, the kid has a five-yard average.

I don't care. He's lazy. I don't want him.

Next! Wally Purdue, Bridgeport Academy, six varsity letters.

He's healing from an ankle fracture but...

But bullshit!

Anybody else? Maybe someone who isn't hurt or lazy?

Isn't there a kid from Elmira?

Yeah, Ernie Davis. Elmira Free Academy.

Running back, 1,300 yards on 179 carries.

Led his team to a state championship. Why the hell didn't we look at him first?

Well, he's a Negro boy, Ben.

Is this a new trend, or is it just my luck?

It's a new trend.

He might remind you of somebody we know.

Too old to butt heads with another Jim Brown.

Roll it.

There he is on the left, number 55.

Right now, he's... Now watch him here.

He breaks through both tackles and look at that, into the secondary.

There he goes, 30-yard line, 40-yard line, 50, 40, 30, 20, 10.

Touchdown. Wow!

He have any offers yet?

About 50.


It's all chrome inside there. Feel that.

No, no, no. Not that, that's the gas. Better step on the brake.


There you go. You got tiny legs. She's gonna love this, right?

Mighty nice car, Jim.

Do me a favor, wait upstairs.

Okay then.

What's on your mind, Coach? I take it this isn't a social call.

All right, look, there's this kid, and I want you to help me recruit him.

You want me to help you?

You're leaving us a hell of a hole, Jim.

And we are up against the big boys. We've got Pitt, UCLA, Texas.

You mean he's colored.

He's a Negro, yes.

You can't talk to Negroes?

I can't...

I'm not good at that salesman stuff. Not much of a dancer, you know that.

I know this wasn't the most welcoming place for you, but that's not my fault.

I can only control what happens on 100 yards of gridiron.

But I do know Cleveland never would have heard of you if you hadn't come here to play for me.

What I did here was on my back and my sweat.

What good would your time be here if you're not willing to help the next kid get his chance?

A kid like you.

He's got talent, Jim.

Maybe even your kind of talent.

Didn't mention anything in your telegram about bringing Jim Brown.

I hope you don't mind signing a couple hundred autographs.

Ha! Jim loves to sign autographs, don't you?

You know, Jim, I'm a Syracuse man myself.

Class of '31.

You don't say.

Is that Bill Clark from Notre Dame?

Yeah, been here all week.

Yeah, not enough he steals Ramsey right out from under my nose.

That's your man right there, Ernie Davis.

11 varsity letters. Plays baseball, too.

In fact, there's not a sport he doesn't play.

Try it one more time.

Let's see what he does.

He's too fast for these kids.

He's too fast for anybody.

Ben Schwartzwalder. Head coach, Syracuse University Orangemen.

Pleasure to meet you, sir.

Pleasure to meet you, son.

Do you know why I'm here?

Same reason as Notre Dame, sir?

Yeah, same reason.

But don't just take my word for it. Jim! Jim!

I'll be right back. Thank you.

There's another fan who'd like to tell you how much he'd like to see you come play for us.

Jim... Brown.

2,091 rushing yards, 5.8 yards of carry, 132 yards and three touchdowns in the Cotton Bowl.

We lost the Cotton Bowl.

But that sweep where you cut back to the middle?

My mama and me watched that game on a television set in Sears and Roebuck.

She's a big fan of yours, too.


Is she?

Mr. Brown? I hope you like caramel cake.

I do, thank you.

Here you go.

I understand you're from Pennsylvania, Mr. Davis.

What brings you up here to New York?

I asked him to come.

To help me make up my mind.

That's good to have family like that.

You close to your family, Mr. Schwartzwalder?

I have a wife and two daughters.

And they never ask my opinion about anything.

Seems to work.

Mr. Brown?

Yes, sir.

Were you the first in your family to go to college?

Yes, sir, I was.

And what's it like at Syracuse for men like us?

It's great. It's good.

I suppose I'd say it's not that different than a lot of places.

This cake is delicious.

I want you to go out. Keep going. Back. Back. All right.

Mr. Brown, I'm not real big on lacrosse.

Jim. Jim.

Okay, let's see what you've got.

It's not as easy as it looks, is it?

I'm all right.

You see, lacrosse isn't just a sport.

The Indians used it to settle their conflicts and heal the sick.

They also played it as a preparation for war.

Make no mistake, there's a war in this country, but for men like us, it's not on the football field.

So if all you nice folks are offering the same thing, what makes you different?

Well, Syracuse...

Not Syracuse. You.

I'm not sure I follow you, Mr. Davis.

My grandson might be spending the next four years listening to you, learning from you.

So, I suppose what I'm asking, Mr. Schwartzwalder, is what kind of man are you?

I just want to be the best player I can be, you know.

I want to be like you, Jim Brown, first-team All-American then straight to the NFL, and I need you to tell me exactly where I gotta be to get there.

Look, if you go to Syracuse, it's not gonna be easy for you.

But Schwartzwalder, he's one of the best coaches in college ball.

Now you're fast, but he'll make you faster.

You run hard, he'll show you how to run harder.

And you're good, but he'll make you better.

And if you ever tell him I said that, I'll jump on the first plane from Cleveland and come and wring your neck.

Now let's get out of here.

Let me tell you something about Jim and I, we had our differences at times.

So whatever he told you about me, I would take it with a grain of salt.

Even if he said you were a good coach?

Well, in that case, son, I would tell you that too much salt is bad for you.

Ernie? Ernie Davis?

How'd you guess?


I'm Lew Andreas, the athletic director. Come on!

I'll give you a tour of the campus on the way to your dorm.

All right. Syracuse has a storied academic tradition, Ernie. Really?

Steven Crane attended the university in 1891 and wrote The Red Badge of Courage... Hey, Lew!

Harry! Sorry, I'll be right back. Right back.

Harry. How are you?

No one from here has ever won, if that's what you're looking for.

No harm in dreaming, right, Coach?

It's not about winning trophies, Davis. It's about winning games.

I'll see you at practice.

Get up! Get up!

That was plum awful! Now, last one runs a lap.

Let's go!

Run a lap. five, six...

Youmans, you move like a walrus.

Come on! Like a big, old elephant walrus!

Gerhard, goose-step. Make your ancestors proud.

Ease up, Davis.

What are you smiling at?

This fine institution is giving you three hots and a cot.

I do not intend to let them waste their money.

Get them up, come on.

Right about now, I bet you're wondering what happened to that nice gentleman that visited your house and begged you to come here, huh?

Let's go! Now make no mistake, gentlemen.

No matter what anyone else tells you, you are not here to just play football.

You are offside.

You are here at Syracuse to win games.

And you can't win games if you can't out-perform the other team.

Don't you step on my All-Americans.

If you step on my All-Americans, I will reach down your throat, grab your donuts and tie them to your tonsils!

Good hit!

Take him down!

So, you're the next Jim Brown, huh?

Yeah, I can see the resemblance.

Yeah, except Brown was always mad about something.

Don't be fooled by the smile.

Well, he's funnier than Jimmy.


Well, maybe he can entertain us. You dance, Davis?

Not as good as me, Lundy.

Come on! Get up! Move! Move! Move! Move!

You should know, you never call Coach, "Sarge."

He was a captain, jumped out of airplanes, stormed a bridge in Normandy.

Killed people, won medals.

By the way, I'm Gerhard Schwedes, halfback.

Roger, everybody calls me Hound Dog though.

Maury Youmans, center.

I'll be keeping your jersey clean next year.

He embarrassed you! Embarrassed you!

I want you to move Davis from freshman to varsity.

But he won't be eligible to play in any games, Ben.

Why don't we just let him catch his stride with the other freshmen?

First, when he does become eligible next year, I want him to hit the ground running.

Second, he's gonna raise everybody's game.

He'll probably be the best running back they face all year.

I got you.

Third, that's just the way I want it done.

Jack Buckley, right tackle, sophomore. Call me JB.

I was a defensive end in high school. Philly.

But I think they're gonna move me to tackle.

What we up to? Three miles?

Don't know. Never count.

You hear a train?

Why? Is it making you nervous?

No, I'm not nervous.

Can we get off these tracks?

Yeah, I'm sorry. I'm just used to it.

And when you use your meal voucher in the student union...

Right. ...stay away from the meatloaf.

What else? Girls.

You'll find a Negro polar bear before you find a Negro coed.

Good morning, sir. Beautiful day, isn't it?

I swear, sometimes you feel like you're on the moon here.

Yes, yes, that's her sister.

Sarette, what did Petey say about that broad?

Yeah, it's her little sister.

I don't know about our team yet, but theirs is in mid-season form.

At least her sister is.

Coach wanted to see me?

He's in his office.


You wanted to see me, Coach?


Davis, my system is simple.

Conditioning, teamwork.

And on my team, I expect every player to know his job.

Know his place on the field.

Quarterback, running back, lineman.

That way, nobody steps on anybody's toes.

Same holds true off the field.

I'm not sure how you mean, Coach.


There are some lines that some people don't care to see crossed, just like there are some toes that shouldn't be stepped on.

And I expect my players not to cross those lines.

Now, you must have a girlfriend back home, right?

Good-looking fellow like you.

You might want to keep in touch with her.

You're a smart kid, Davis. I don't have to spell it out for you, do I?

Anything else, Coach?


May I go now?


We call that, "The white girl speech," and don't worry, we all get it.

That's funny. I don't remember seeing that in the campus brochure, JB.

Avatus Stone.

Avatus what?

Avatus Stone. Quarterback. Negro.

First one Schwartzwalder recruited here.

What happened to him?

He got run off.

What do you mean, "Run off?"

One night, just disappeared. Gone.

And then Jimmy Brown shows up, and all Jim hears is, "Don't be like Avatus Stone.

"Whatever you do, don't be like Avatus Stone."

Wait. But what did he do? Did he kill somebody?

Worse. He dated a white girl.

Majorette, blonde.

Schwartzwalder wouldn't even give Jim a scholarship until sophomore year.

Made him prove himself.


Just goes to show, Coach likes winning more than he dislikes Negroes.

A little.

See you at the room.


Excuse me, Hound Dog.

Would you look at that, boys?

If it isn't enough they let a freshman dress in the varsity locker, now they went and anointed him the second coming of Jim Brown.

What's your problem, Lundy?

My problem is I was raised to believe you should have to earn things.

That's not all you were raised to believe, now was it?

You got a big mouth, JB.

Yeah, I do.

How about the next play, Ben?

This'll be strong load right, 42 shovel pass.

We can use this third short.

Strong load right. Right, 42 shovel pass.

What you got there, Davis?

It's this jersey, Coach.

What, something wrong with it?

Yeah, I...

What is it? Too big? Too tight, what?

Oh, no. Not at all. It's just...

Then what is it?

Somebody made a mistake.

They gave me the wrong number.

Mr. Davis, I put that jersey in your locker.

Are you accusing me of making a mistake?

No, sir. Well then, what?

Coach, I'm...

I'm not Jim Brown.

God, I hope not!

And, God, I hope so.

That is your number.

The day you're not up to it, I'll take it away as quick as a hiccup.

Now, get out of here.

Tight right, 34 right dig. On one. On one. Ready.


Offense, I want to see you fire off the ball.

Fire off the ball.

Red? Sir!

Are you in or out there?

Strong left, strong left!

Strong left. Why don't you watch the sweep, right there?

Sir! Ready?

On one.

God damn it!

Lundy, you got yourself planted.

Get off your heels and get after it. That was embarrassing.

Davis looks good.

Looks good, Ben.

Five, three, cover two. Ready?


Double tight, double tight. Watch the sweep left! Watch the sweep!

That was a cheap shot.

Oh, he's gonna get a lot worse than that before he's done here.

You've got something to say, 44?

You all right? Yeah.

You can't let him treat you like that and not say nothing.

That's all right. I do my talking on the field.

Hey, hey! Come on!

Hey, come on!

All right, all right, all right, all right, all right.

Don't ever make me look bad again.

Back to the huddle, Lundy.

You got away with a lot back in high school 'cause you were bigger than everybody else.

Those days are done.

You got it? Got it, Coach.

Good block.

Now listen up.

If you practice half-assed, you will play half-assed.

Now, we have Boston College in two weeks and I would like not to get blown out in our own stadium.

Now play football.

Let's go. Good work.

Surprise, surprise. Will you look at this?

They're saying Pete Dawkins is gonna take home the Heisman.

Well, he rushed for over 1,000 yards, and has almost as many receiving yards, JB.

He's gotta be real good.

Yeah, well, he's definitely real white.

This thing's like a love letter.

JB, look.



Negro polar bears.

Who knew they traveled in pairs?

Ready? For what?

You're not ready. Come on, let's go. Which one do you like?

Which one do you like?

The one on the right.

Good evening, ladies.

Good evening.

I'd like a Pepsi. The same.

And could you bring us some of those deviled eggs?

You don't even be eating no deviled egg.

I'm so sorry. You go to Syracuse?

I didn't know.

Yes, we go to Syracuse, but if you'd like, we can jump in the kitchen, whip you up some grits and gravy, ma'am.

Get them, Ernie.

I'm Gloria. This is my friend...


She's visiting from Cornell.

Gloria and Sarah. Okay. I'm Jack Buckley, but you call me JB.


And this is my friend, Ernie.

How do you do?

Very well.

So, what are you guys studying?

Well, a little bit of everything.

Math, basic literature...

We're on the football team.

And that.


I don't really know too much about football.

Neither does he.

All kidding aside, Gloria, would you care to dance?

All right.

So, Sarah, what are you studying?

I'm majoring in education, with a minor in social sciences.


And you? What are you studying?

Just some basic courses right now, some math, some English.

Look, I know what you're thinking.

That since I'm not here because of my grades, or my money, that I'm not a serious person.

You're wrong.

So, you know what I'm thinking, do you?

Fine, Mr. Serious.

What am I thinking right now?

Rain still coming down steadily here at Archbold Stadium.

The last chance for the Orangemen.

The Orangemen can really use a little help out there.

Let's hope their recruiting is better than their running game.


And for the Syracuse faithful, there's a sense of disbelief, as Holy Cross has knocked off the mighty Orangemen.

Let's go, ladies. Pick it up!

Let's go. Knees up. Knees up.

Pain is how you learn.

Come on!

Gentlemen, it is not okay to lose to an inferior team, especially on our home turf!

Now, we gave no effort out on that field tonight, so we should feel it now!

Don't you puke on my gym floor!

Varsity practice only, Ernie. You don't have to be here.

I know.

I just heard you called a midnight practice, Coach.

I'm sorry I'm late.

Well, go ahead. Get in there.

Yes, sir.

Gentlemen, do you think you played good football last year?

Think again.

You think you're here just to wear a varsity jacket and impress the ladies?

Think again.

If you think you know what pain is, think again.

This is what pain is for.

Now, does anyone know the last year that Syracuse won a national championship?


You're right. We've never won one.

You are here to change all that.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the field your Syracuse University Orangemen.

Welcome to Archbold Stadium, Syracuse, New York, where the Orangemen begin the 1959 campaign.

The expectations for Ben Schwartzwalder and the Orangemen are enormous.

This is a football team that could go unbeaten.

Hut one!

On first down, Ernie Davis gets his first carry as a member of the Orangemen.

Welcome to Syracuse football.

Will... Will, he said his name on the radio.

Sure did. I heard it. I heard it, Pops.

Ernie Davis certainly has some big shoes to fill here today.

And after an unsuccessful series of downs by the Orangemen, Kansas takes over on its own 28-yard line.


Let's get after it! Come on, let's get after it!

The receiver is leveled by veteran linebacker Bobby Lundy.

I'm doing your job, 44.

Huddle up!

Ball at the Syracuse 10-yard line.

First down and goal to go for Kansas.

Yes. Did he get in?

Did he cross the goal line?

Here's the official signal.

Touchdown, Kansas.

What kind of pig slop is that?

We haven't gotten a call all day!

Jayhawks jump out to a 7-0 lead here at the very, very quiet Archbold Stadium.

Here in the second quarter, Kansas on top of Syracuse, 7-0.

Six regular! Six regular!

The Orange faithful still waiting for something to cheer about.

Hut one!

Sarette back to pass.

Throwing downfield.

It's complete to his tight end down near the Kansas 30-yard line.

Way to pick up the blitz, Ernie!

A superb block on the play, turned in by Ernie Davis.

Second down, eight yards to go for the Orangemen.


Toss play once again to Ernie Davis.

Get him out there!

Davis to the Kansas secondary.

Go, Davis, go!

Look at that young man go!

The Elmira Express virtually walks into the end zone!

The Syracuse Orangemen, now on top of Kansas, 14-7.

Go for one.

And what an impression Ernie Davis has made on this crowd here at Archbold.

The Orangemen just may have found their next great halfback.

Hey, Ernie.

Hey, fellas, how you doing?

You guys coming or going?

Hey. Welcome home, Ernie.


They give you some time off?

Yeah, yeah, long weekend.

Look at you, all college boy.

You're just gonna dirty up my college jacket.

Come on, come on, let's go inside. You're too good to hug me?

Look at this!

Let me carry that. Give me your bag.

If they'd run you more last week against Navy, you would have blown them jokers off the field.

Will, we won.

Seems like that coach of yours like to pass the ball.

I'll get my carries.

Yeah? He promise you that?

No. Thank you, ma'am. But eventually... No?

How are your grades, Ernie?


They're good, Pops, thanks. I'm keeping them up.

I like history, and I'm taking a business course.

That's good.

'Cause football is just a game.

It's that degree that's going to count for something.

Gonna get you a good job.

Where you gonna get a good job at, a Negro with a diploma?


It's football that's gonna take him someplace.

Otherwise, he gonna be working right here with us, cutting coal, and you know it.

I wanna apologize for him.

You ain't got to apologize for me, Pops!

Don't you start it tonight, Will.

Pops... Guys! -Don't start it tonight.

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!


You're both right.

Now, my plan A is the Cleveland Browns. Now, if that doesn't work out, plan B is the New York Giants.

Come on, Ernie. We don't wanna be late.

Sorry, my dear, we got things to do, people to meet.

I'll meet you outside, Ernie.

Jim Crow is alive and well right here in Pennsylvania.

Yes, it is.

But we can no longer willfully close our eyes and pretend that we cannot see that he sees us as beneath him.

Yes! No, we cannot.

And we can no longer stay silent when he tells us that we cannot speak.

Yes! That's right!

Abraham Lincoln stood in a field at Gettysburg, and spoke of a new nation. That's right.

Uniontown is 100 miles away from his Gettysburg.

We are still yet to be equal.

That is why the NAACP is calling for a nationwide boycott of Woolworths.

That's right! That's right!

All right.

Come on.

Boycott! Boycott! Boycott! Boycott! Boycott! Boycott!

Come to Washington with us.

There's a bus going down from the church.

We gonna organize with Martin Luther King and let the people know this country has got to change.

I don't think I can be a part of what you want me to be a part of right now, Will. All this.

What you saying?

I got a scholarship.

I can't risk losing it, and I don't wanna invite trouble.

I see. Did Emmett Till invite trouble? Did Rosa Parks?

Who told you this, your coach?

You don't understand.

It's a different world up there.

Is it?

You know, your coach sound a lot like Pops.

No understanding whatsoever with the troubles in this country.

"You boys got no business north of Union Street, you hear me?"

Now, leave Pops out of this, Will.

Now you got a white man telling you what you can and can't do.

Wait a minute. Hold on. Watch how you talk to me.

That man don't care nothing about you, Ernie.

You're not there. You don't know him.

You just his educated nigger.

You don't know what you're talking about. Tom can toe the line and carry the ball, but that man will turn on you. Just you wait.

You don't think I'm reminded every minute of who I am at school?

Everybody there is watching me, and waiting for me to make a mistake.

You Ernie Davis.

You got your name in the paper.

Now that's something for colored folk around here to open up a newspaper, Ernie, and see your name, your face.

And say, "I know him. I went to school with him."

They gonna be looking up to you.

I think you owe them more than just running a ball.

The play action pass was there all day.

It won't be there the next time.

Why not?

'Cause Boston College is watching the same damn game that we are.

All right, we start out double tight. Tight in here, tight in there.

Just a normal double tight.

Just like from the beginning of time, Simmy.

Now, we're gonna take Schwedes out of the wing position, and we're gonna move him into a three-back formation.

Only shift it over like this.

All right, defense. What do you do when you see this?

Now the defense, they have to shift.

We move to the right.

That's right. Even if it's shading from nose up to opposite shoulder.

Our right tackle? He goes on the left side.

I'm gonna leave the huddle, and you're gonna start out right, just like normal.

Go left, go left!

Except before we're set, you're gonna run left.

He runs left, and you're gonna line up on the left side.

And he sets up on the left side.

And it's evident that Boston College is confused by the offense Syracuse is running.

You lost me, Ben. The right tackle moves to the left, he covers the tight end.

But if he's on the left side, we cover the tight end, I can't pass to him.

The Holy Cross defenders are desperately trying to position themselves to best play against this formation.

Petey, am I talking French here?

Tackle lines up inside the tight end, does he not?

It's unbalanced, right? Do we shift again, Coach?

Yes, they shift. They all shift.

They have to shift. They must shift.

Shift, shift, shift.

All right, so you've got everybody and their dog shifted over to the left. Now what?

We are going to run it...

We are going to run it... the right. the right. To the right, Coach?

But that's away from our strength.

The weak side of the field.

So, we're going to run to the weak side?

I like the way that you think, Mr. Davis.

Gentlemen, when you have a thoroughbred, you do not lock him in the barn.


I will take one-on-one out here all day long.

That just might work, Coach.

Damn right.

"Ernie Davis is a bull-necked, steel-shouldered running back

"from Syracuse University, who can run a football field's length

"in 10 seconds flat." 10 seconds?

Okay, put that away now, please.

Don't you be modest.

Thank you. Be proud, Ernie.

You're in the same magazine as Reverend King, that's something. Yeah.

That is something, but Sarah, it looks like you didn't read the best part.

"In his spare time, the bull-necked Ernie Davis enjoys sewing, "baking lasagna, and writing songs for his church choir."

Ernie, you never invite me to church. Very funny, very funny.

I'm hurt. What is that? Ernie? Ernie.

Can I have a word with you, please?

Make me some lasagna.

He can take it.

Good to see you. That's Mr. Andreas.

Just turn left there.

"He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.

"He leadeth me beside the still waters.

"He restoreth my soul.

"He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

"Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, "I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.

"Thy rod and thy staff..."

40 years, Pops worked underground.

Seems wrong to put him right back in there.

And the drive deep into left field. And it's a home run!

"And his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain."

"His grace which was bestowed..."

"... upon me was not in vain."


Now, we barely got by West Virginia when we played them here last year, and they've been licking their chops waiting for us ever since.

They play by a different set of rules.

It will be hostile.

Their fans are unruly, especially when they're playing against a team that looks a little different than they do.

Now, load up.

God damn it!

Hey, Squirrel!

Didn't I tell you to put new laces in these?

I forgot. I'll do it now.

His name is Donald.


His name is Donald.

Hell, Squirrel, I don't know which one's worse.

But you see, Davis, around here, Squirrel finishes the laces.

If it makes you happy, you can shine them for me.

Hey, come on!

Get him off!

Hey! Knock it off!


What the hell's going on in here?

Where are you going, Davis? Davis!

I'm talking to you!

Hey, you guys all saw it. Coach, he went crazy on me.

All right, everyone, listen up.

Everyone is to keep their helmet on at all times, whether you're in the game or not.

I don't want anyone hurt by flying bottles.

Davis, Buckley, Baker, you stay in the middle of the pack.

Keep your heads down.

It must be Halloween, 'cause here come the spooks!

We'll be safer out on the field.

All right, let's go!

Come on, boys! Let's go!

The unbeaten Syracuse Orangemen have made the journey to Morgantown, West Virginia.

They'll face a rugged Mountaineer team.

And there's the boot. Baker takes the football up to the 20, the 30, the 40 and he's finally brought down at the 47-yard line.

Offense, let's go. Look alive, let's go.

A full house. 495 dive on two, on two. Ready?

Thirty-five, thirty-five!

Okie. Okie.

Thirty-five, thirty-five.

The Orangemen break the huddle, first and 10.

Out of the full-house backfield.

The give is to Ernie Davis. Davis spins at the line of scrimmage where he's met by a host of West Virginia tacklers.

Get him off him! Play football!

Huddle up, 70.

We will get no justice from the refs tonight.

All right, guys. We're gonna run it till they stop it.

Right, full house. 495 dive, on one, on one. Ready?

Break! Break!

Same play! Same play! Same hole. Run it. Same play, same hole, on one.

Run it. Strong left!

Thanks. Set!

Second down at six yards to go.

Hut one!

The Orangemen go back to Ernie Davis. Davis is met with a wall of Mountaineers.

And Davis reverses field with a tremendous move.

What's he doing?

Davis picks up a big block and with a stiff arm, gets free into West Virginia territory.

Shit, he's going in.

He's at the 20, the 10, inside the 5!

No! Knee down, right here.

It certainly appeared from our vantage point here that Ernie Davis has scored on this play.

I got you down at the 1.

You were down!

No, I got in, Mr. Official.

Sir, I got in. You saw me...

You want a penalty, boy?

Get back in that huddle now.

Brokaw, come here! Yes, Coach.

Come on, son. Go get us six. Go!

Davis, come in! Come in, son. Come in.

Come on, son. Let's go. For me?

You're holding up the game. Let's go. I got it.

First down Syracuse.

Why'd you pull me, Coach? I took it down there. Let me score.

If I let you carry that ball across the goal line, all of us, we might not get back on that bus in one piece.

That's the way they do things down here.

Sarette hands off to Brokaw, who punches the ball home, and the Orangemen have grabbed a 6-0 lead against the Mountaineers on their own home turf.

Go home, blackie!

First down for the Orangemen. Ball at the West Virginia 42-yard line.

Sarette with the fake.

Ernie Davis across the left side breaks the tackle and gets into the open field.

Good run! Good run!

Brokaw, come here. Yeah, Coach.

Strong right, fullback wedge eight. Go!

Ernie, Ernie!

Brokaw, get in there!

Right full house, 40 broom. On one, on one. Ready.

Break! Break!

Davis, get off the field.

Now, you got a white man telling you what you can and can't do...

... one hundred years away from here...

Ref, time out. Time out.

You don't have any more.

We are still not yet...

You're just his educated nigger.

They gonna be looking up to you.

I think you owe them more than just running a ball.

What the hell do you think you're doing?

What did I tell you about the rules down here?

What are you... We just scored. Bullshit.

You scored! We're a team. I'm the coach.

You're a goddamn running back. You're my goddamn running back, and you will do what I tell you, when I tell you to do it.

Now, you plant your ass down on that bench.

Am I invisible?

What? Am I invisible to you?

Am I an X, an O in your goddamn playbook, or do you see a person standing here?

Am I Avatus Stone? Am I Jim Brown?

Just a running back? That's bullshit!

You're about this close, Davis.

Come on, let's go.

You know, maybe, just maybe, Coach, the rules down here are your rules, too.

That's enough. Come on.


You all right?


Good game.

Good game, Ben. Mike?

I tried not to run up the score.

I know. You just had our number tonight.

Say, Ben, how many coloreds you got playing for you?

Three, why?

You just be careful, Ben. They got no discipline.

Too many of them and they'll take the team away from you.

Now, you give my best to Reggie.


Can I sit down?

I'm sorry I lost my temper.

But I'm not sorry I stayed in the game, and I'm not sorry I scored.

Now, what kind of an apology is this?

I've never walked off the field for anybody.

These people down here, they're dug in.

They're set in their ways. We got...

Coach, that...

You're just hiding behind those words.

I have a responsibility to my team, Davis.

That's not how it has to be.

Yes. Jack, Art and me, we're all a part of your team.

But we can't run across that goal line down here without you.

It doesn't mean a damn thing unless you're with us.

Is that it?

And in college football, the Syracuse Orangemen continue their dominance of the Eastern Conference with a 29-0...

Fans, I wish all of you could be here to see what these eyes have just witnessed.

... brilliant displays of athletic talent I've seen on any gridiron.

Come on, guys! Sustain your block!

... led by Ernie Davis, from Elmira, New York.

Another jaw-dropping performance here at Navy Memorial Stadium.

I tell you one thing, he's electrified this crowd.

The unbeaten Syracuse Orangemen...

Davis, who has been nothing short of brilliant today, reserves the victory for coach Ben Schwartzwalder and the Syracuse Orangemen.

... nothing but a hound dog You know it!

Crying all the time Well, you ain't never caught a rabbit And you ain't no friend of mine Settle down. Listen up, boys.

All right, listen up. Listen up!


Gentlemen, congratulations.

Undefeated with a number one ranking is something to be proud of.




Mr. Andreas has informed me that we have been offered two different bowl games, the Orange Bowl in Miami and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

Now, in Miami, we would play Georgia, ranked ninth in the polls.

And in Dallas, we would play Texas, ranked second, right behind us.

If we win either game, we will be the national champions.

Texas is the tougher opponent, the tougher team.

But to be the best, I believe you have to beat the best.

So, I guess you know how I would vote, but this is your vote.

This is your team. Your decision.





Texas. Texas.

Texas. Texas.





Looking forward to it! Texas.

Texas. Texas!

Texas. Texas.


A lot of people think the Texas Longhorns are the best team in the nation.

One big reason is Clay Taylor.

All-American, best Division One tackle in the nation three years in a row.

Now, some folks even think that the only reason that we are undefeated is because we have not met Clay Taylor and his teammates.

I want everyone to take a good long look at what we're up against here because in Texas, football is a religion.

You think we been south?

We ain't been south till we go to Texas.

Schwedes, give me a goose-step.

We are now faced with a far different problem.

The forcible integration of the public schools of Little Rock against the overwhelming sentiment of the people of the area.

Two, four, six, eight!

We don't want to integrate!

Two, four, six, eight!

We don't want to integrate!

We still have the attitude of love, we still have the method of passive resistance and we are still insisting emphatically, that violence is self-defeating.

That he who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.

This is quite a ruckus.

Hey, Ernie, Roger Page, Channel Nine.

They're calling this game the North against the South.

In light of what's going on in this country, do you feel added pressure to represent change?

We don't concern ourselves with politics.

We're just here to play a great football game and take home the championship.

To be honest, Mr. Page, when I'm out on that field, I only think about winning the game.

But that doesn't mean I don't know the color of my own skin.

Let's check in.

We've got a problem, Ben.


The Aristocrat Hotel does not allow coloreds to stay here.

I need my team together, Lew.

Now, you do whatever it takes to make that happen.

What's the problem? What's the problem here?

Right this way, gentlemen.

Fellas, looks like we once again found the Negro wing.

State seven! State seven!

Set! Double tight! Double tight!

Wing left, watch it.


Do you think it is the New York City Ballet that's going to be running up your ass on New Year's day?

These are the goddamn Texas Longhorns!

If you cannot fight off blocks better than that, let's just get on the bus and go home.

Run the play again!


My hamstring!

This may be a blessing in disguise.

Look at these.

Where did you get these?

Where did I get them?

They were sent to the hotel to your boys.

Scare tactics.

Doesn't have a goddamn thing to do with football.

We shouldn't play him.

Maybe not even Art or Jack but especially Ernie.

The NCAA is on my back.

Even the Mayor of Dallas is nervous, afraid of race riots.

Lew, you hired me to win.

Well, I'm here at the goddamn Cotton Bowl, and this time we're gonna win it.

So why don't you tell that to the Mayor of Dallas?

I'm playing. You hear me? I'm playing.

You're goddamn right you are.

There's an electricity in the air today in Dallas.

And, as you can see from the clear skies behind me, it's not a local thunderstorm.

All eyes are on the field as undefeated Syracuse, the Beast from the East, takes on Texas, the power of the Southwest Conference.

Do I need to say anything?

Come on, it's on!

Come on, it's on, the Cotton Bowl. Come on, Marie.

Come on. Come on. Come on.

All right, all right.

Get two ice teas, please.

And the Cotton Bowl.

Drop your heads.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done...

George, fancy seeing you here.

You taking a look at Davis?

I've seen him.


In a Redskins uniform?

I think he'd look better in a Cleveland uniform.

Now, wouldn't that be something?

Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm Texas welcome to the Syracuse University Orangemen.

With a phenomenal record of 10-0, Ben Schwartzwalder and his mighty Orangemen of Syracuse, ranked number 1 in the nation, take the field here at the historic Cotton Bowl in Dallas to face Darrell Royal and the second-ranked Longhorns of Texas.

You ready for this?

I'm ready.

Get off the field!

If the Orangemen are going to be successful moving the football today, they're going to have to go through Clay Taylor and Pete Logan, two very dominant football players and the defensive leaders for the Longhorns.

Davis, hamstring.


Syracuse receives!

That's what we wanted.

Go, boy. Get them.

Ernie, if you get the ball, go all the way.

Let's go!Let's go! Let's go, four-four.

And the 1960 Cotton Bowl is underway.

Offense! Let's go!

An incredibly enthusiastic crowd on hand as Syracuse lines up for its first series.

I've been waiting for this nigger.

Okie. Okie. Set!

I'm about to kick your black ass back to Africa, boy.

Oh, yeah? Too bad I'm from Philly.

The give is to Ernie Davis.

He gains two yards and is brought down quickly by Taylor and Logan.

We're in the Cotton Bowl, not the cotton patch, boys.

Personal foul, ref! 84!

84, ref.

The handkerchief on the field.

There appears to be some late contact by both Taylor and Logan.

Holding, offense!

That's bullshit. Will!

But there, did you see that? I saw it.

You don't stop this quick, it's gonna get out of hand.

That's one. You've been warned.

"I've been warned." What are you, my first grade teacher?

Sophomore Davis is clearly favoring his right leg as he moves back to the Orangemen huddle.

Okay, on one, on one. Ready?

The Orangemen facing first and 20.

It's to Davis.

Runs to his left. Looks to throw.

Now cuts back to the right with a dazzling spin move, and sheds the tackler.

He turns the corner. He's in the clear. He's gone!

Quick. Go! Go! Go! Go!


He's drilled out of bounds at the 3-yard line.

And now Davis, who's lying prone on the sidelines, appears to be either exhausted or hurt.

I can't believe they caught him.

Ernie, get up!

Ernie! Ernie!

Ernie, you all right?

Davis is finally helped to his feet by All-American tackler Jack Buckley.

One has to wonder just what kind of shape Ernie Davis is in. I told you.

Syracuse, first down at the Longhorn three.

The give is to the right halfback, Gerhard Schwedes.

Outstanding block by Davis.

He crosses the goal line to put Syracuse on the board.

Here in the second quarter Coach Ben Schwartzwalder and his top-ranked team find themselves on top of the Texas Longhorns, 7-0.

Ready? Break!

The Orangemen are knocking on the door once again.

State seven! State seven!

Set! Hut one.

The give is to Ernie Davis and the sophomore finds the end zone, as the Orangemen increase their lead on the Longhorns!

So precisely when is it you're going to start kicking my black ass back to Africa?

Hey, Buckley!

Hey, come on, stay cool.

They're baiting us. They're baiting them.

Hey, Logan, Taylor, 44 is embarrassing you.

And after a successful two-point conversion the Orangemen of Syracuse lead the Longhorns of Texas by a score of 15-0.

McKinley on a sweep to the right.

Bobby Lundy steps up and there's a huge hit on McKinley.

And the ball is loose, recovered by the Orangemen and Syracuse takes over.


My, that's a cheap shot.

A late hit by Talbert on Ernie Davis after the play was whistled dead.

Back! Everybody, back! Back! Back! Back!

You all right, son? You okay?

I'm all right, Coach.

All right. You sure? Yeah.

Offense on the field. Let's go!

Told you this would get out of hand. This is bullshit.

Syracuse will run one last play before halftime.

Pack your bags, spook.

Scoreboard, eight-four.

Come on, let's just play ball.

You defending this nigger?

How you gonna call yourself a white Christian?

I'm Jewish.

Hut one!

That's another late hit.

And once again, Ernie Davis is pummeled!

Break it up, ref!

Come on, ref, do something.

And both teams are clearing their benches and heading to the middle of the field.

Ref, I told you to do something about this.

This has become a fiasco. It's a donnybrook.

My God, no. This...

This is no longer a football game, ladies and gentlemen.

Is somebody gonna stop this?

... ugly display...

Get off! Get off the field!

Hey, Coach!

Get off of him! Break it up!

Petey, you all right?

You guys see what happened?

Come on, cozy up to the blackboard.

You see what happened, Lundy? That's what I'm telling you.

You can't let people talk to you like this, be pounding on your leg the whole time.

I know, but you'll get ejected. They won't.

You're done for the day.

We're up by 15. We can take it from here.

Coach, I can still get back out there and play.

No, I want you to put some ice on that leg.

I had a halftime speech all planned out.

It seemed pretty good up till about 10 minutes ago.

It was all about victory and champions and glory.

But this is not just a game anymore.

We're fighting something else out on that field right now.

And I can see it just as clearly as you.

And that's why winning this one means nothing if you lose yourselves.

Don't give this one away.

Keep it. Hold on to it for yourselves and for everyone in this room.

It's here. It's right here.

And no one can take it from you, gentlemen.

Not the officials, not the crowds and certainly not the other team.

It belongs to you, gentlemen.

Don't you let anyone steal history away from you.

Glory! Glory!

As play resumes here at the Cotton Bowl, Ernie Davis has not joined the rest of the Orangemen for the second half.

Down 15 to nothing, the Longhorns are desperate to get something on the board.

Bobby Lackey drops back to pass.

And it's complete to Bobby Gurwitz for a 69-yard Texas touchdown!

What a throw by the Heisman-hopeful quarterback from Texas.

A 69-yard touchdown pass caught by number 24, Bobby Gurwitz.

Goal line, goal line. Ready?

Darrell Royal and Texas opt to go for the two-point conversion.

Another walloping tackle by Syracuse's Bob Lundy.

That'll mean something later on.

Midway through the third quarter, Syracuse protecting a 15-6 lead against the Longhorns.

Three. Hut, hut!

Sarette with a fake to Baker.

Options to Schwedes.

Schwedes is hammered by Muehling and coughs up the ball.

All right! Let's go!

Protect the ball!

And watch out! The Longhorns are building some momentum.

Texas, knocking on the door at the goal line.

Bobby Lackey calls his own number and finds the end zone.

The Longhorns have suddenly given us a football game here in Dallas.

Lackey drops back to pass, and it's complete to Paul.

Syracuse 15, Texas 14.

The Longhorns have made it a one-point game.

Tough break.

I mean, they probably got it in hand.

Baker, Schwedes, they're good backs.

But no sense in getting hurt worse, right?

Entering the fourth quarter of play, the tension level here at the Cotton Bowl is palpable.

We let them right back in the game.

Coach, Davis.

All right, boys, keep your heads in the game. Don't worry about it.

Ernie, what are you doing?

I need to talk to you, Coach. I need you to ice that leg.

I already have. I need to talk to you for a sec.

No, no, you are not playing. Just listen to me for a sec.

You can watch, but you cannot play.

Just hear me out, Coach.

Coach, on the trip down here I saw a lot of things out that bus window.

Now, we get to Dallas, they got me, Jack and Art in a tiny room with cots.

We can't use the elevator 'cause we might scare the white folks.

Can't even walk in the front door of a hotel.

Now, all those people who did that, who believe that's right, are watching.

But you know what, so are they.

Can you even run?

Yes, sir.

I don't want to hurt you anymore.

I'm ready.

All right.

Strong load right, 42 shovel pass.

Go. Let's go, Ernie.

And now the 76,000 fans at the Cotton Bowl are stunned!

Ernie Davis has returned to the playing field.

Let's go.

Man, that's Ernie Davis!

Strong left.

Six regular! Six regular! Tight.

The Orangemen, ball on their own 40-yard line, are desperate for a first down to keep the ball out of the hands of Longhorn quarterback Bobby Lackey.

And the ball comes loose.

Texas has recovered.

His knee was down, ref.

First down, Texas!

Bad call, ref.

My knee was down, sir.

They're trying to steal it from us. I was down.

Franklin, Franklin, get in there for Davis, go.

No. Get back. I'm staying in. I'm staying in.


Texas on the 40-yard line with the ball and with the game's momentum.

Bobby Lackey drops back to pass.

Throws downfield, he's got a receiver open.

Go! Go!

All the way! All the way!

That's the way. Offense, offense, let's go!

Let's take advantage.

Get out there. Let's go!

First down, 10 yards to go from the 13.

Syracuse has to move the chains and keep the clock ticking down or put this game away with another touchdown.

Hut one.

Yeah! Yeah, go, go, go!

He's behind you. Go!

That's it! That's it.

He got this. Go!

An unbelievable play!

Ernie Davis scoring on an amazing 87-yard catch and run!

With the final seconds ticking away...

Stay in the game.

Stay in the game. It's not over.

... the Longhorns are looking to tie this game up with a last chance shot at the end zone.

All right, ladies, settle down. Settle down. Give me your undivided attention. Hey!

It's just been announced, the 1960 Cotton Bowl MVP. Congratulations to Mr. Ernie Davis.

Ernie! Congrats.

Come here.

Congratulations, brother.

All right, everybody, listen up.

This gentleman wants to say something.

Go ahead.

What the man is trying to say is that the trophy ceremony in our honor will be held at Oak Hill Country Club tonight.

Great. Very nice.

Unfortunately, the Oak Hill Country Club is color restricted.

Which means that three of us, including the player who was awarded the Cotton Bowl MVP today, cannot attend.



Now, how do we feel about that?

I don't know about you, but I hear they have some great barbecue down here.

You read it.

"To Syracuse University department of athletics.

"This is to inform you that Ernest Davis

"has been selected as one of the three finalists for the..."

Congratulations, Ernie.

We're ready for you, Mr. Davis.

... or witnessed more closely...

Good luck, Mr. Davis.

Thank you, sir.

... the importance of the gridiron or effected more change in the game...

... than John W. Heisman. So, it is with distinct pleasure...

No matter what happens up there, I want you to know that I'm really proud of you, son.

... the memorial trophy bearing his name.

The first is Ernest R. Davis from Syracuse University.

Our next nominee is Robert Ferguson, Ohio State University.

Our third nominee is James Saxton, the University of Texas.


Thanks, man.

The Heisman Trophy has, since 1935, represented everything that is great about collegiate athletics.

And these three fine young men represent their teams, their schools and their families with honor.

The voting for this year's award was the closest in history and each of these players is deserving.

That said, the winner of this year's Heisman Memorial Trophy is

Ernest R. Davis from Syracuse University.


Thank you.


I appreciate it.

Congratulations, Ernie. Thank you.

You did great.

First, I'd like to thank the Heisman committee.

Sarah, my family, Mom, Will,


And Pops for believing in me.

And Jim Brown for letting me wear his number.

I'd also like to thank my head coach, Ben Schwartzwalder, for making me better, being a good teacher, and for being a good man.

Thank you, everyone.

Where exactly are we going?

Right this way.

Ernie, I was in town and I wanted to get a chance to meet you.

I know today is a proud day for you. You've really accomplished something here.


Thank you, Mr. President.

Fourth down, 9 yards.

Must be nice having the number one draft pick, huh, George?

I'm sure Ernie Davis is a fine boy, but I'll start signing Negroes when the Harlem Globetrotters start signing whites.

Mr. Modell, George Marshall from the Washington Redskins is on the phone.

Of course he is.

George, what a surprise to hear from you.

You do? Okay, I'm listening.

It's all over the wire.

The Redskins just traded their number one pick to Cleveland.

You're a commodity now.

Yeah, you should listen to your lawyer, man. He's right. It's all business now.

Have you been sick recently?

No, I feel great.

I may be a commodity, but this commodity is playing for Cleveland.

Me and Jim Brown in the same backfield.

You're gonna steal his number again?

Oh! Oh!

Stop it.

I don't want to leave.

You don't have to leave.

I do.

I should bring you with me.

Just jump in my suitcase. You know you can fit.


Oh, no. Oh, I slipped.

I'm sorry.

That was a mistake, too. I'm sorry. Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

I have to get you a new blouse.

Look at you.

What are you doing?

He's at the 10.

The 20, the 30...

The 40...

Is that another nose bleed?

You know, Hound Dog says he gets hit so hard, he wakes up with blood on his pillow. Doesn't even know where it came from.

But you haven't been hit.

Ernie, you haven't been hit. What...

Bus leaves for practice in a half hour.

Be here when I get back?

I'll be here.

Right two to Maury, right two to Maury.

Set? Go!

Stop. Change your block, change your block.

Behind me, the East team led by Syracuse's Ben Schwartzwalder.

Ernie Davis goes through the paces in preparation for Saturday night's All-America game.

Davis look a little sluggish to you?

He'll be fine.

Tight right, 34 wide dig. Ready?

Come on! Break!

Okie. Okie.

Watch. Strong left. Strong left!


Six box! Six box! Set!

Hut! Hut!

All right, let's run it again. Let's go.

It's all right. You'll get them next time. Come on.


Ernie? You okay?

He's got to have another transfusion. He's lost quite a lot of blood.

How'd he do that? We're not sure.

He's gonna need further tests.

So test. Gentlemen.

Now what am I supposed to tell the press?

Mumps. What?

He's got a bad case of the mumps.

That's good.

Double tight! Double tight! Down!


Blue 3-21!

Blue 3-21!

Hut! Hut!

Hey, Ernie!

The man wants to see you.

All right, get back. Let's go.


Hey, Mr. Modell.

Hey. How are you?

I'm good. I've been watching you.

I'm still trying to find my rhythm out there.

You know, new system and all. Yeah, listen, Ernie.

All I need is some rest. Yeah, the system is...

Once I get used to it...

All right. Ernie, Ernie, Ernie, I spoke with Dr. Hewlett and...

Look, he doesn't know what it is, but they know something's not right, Ernie.

I should have told you earlier, kid. I really can't clear you for practice.

If I can't practice, how am I gonna play?

You're not gonna play. Not now.

And maybe not this season.

Well, when?

I don't know.

I don't know, kid.

Get better, okay? Your job is to get well.

Mr. Modell, you don't understand.

Everything I got is because of football.

I need to play.


Mr. Modell, please, sir.

Next year, kid. We're counting on you next year. Really.

Thank you.

Thank you, sir.

Did you hear back from the teaching job yet?


They offered it to me.

That's great.

I told them I had to think about it.

What's to think about?

The distance between Cleveland and Oakland for one.

Take it.


Take the job, Sarah.

You've always said you want to do something with your life.

You didn't just come to school just to find a husband.

You're beautiful, smart.

Stick to that dream.

How sick are you, Ernie?

Look at me.


Ernie Davis?

I hate to disturb you, but would you sign an autograph for my son?

He's 12, and you're his favorite player.

Gonna be great to see you with the Browns.

Thank you.

You're welcome.


It's a word that jumps out at you.

I know when I first heard it myself, I was...

I was scared.

But I got a lot of people in my corner, good people, standing beside me.

My doctors are confident.

They tell me I'm responding well to my treatment.

So, things are good.

And you know me. I'm an optimist. I'm gonna fight it.

I hope to get on that field and see you all in that press box real soon.

Real soon.

Mr. Davis, Tom Martin, Saturday Evening Post.

I saw you play in the Cotton Bowl two years ago.


I'm wondering if you'd like to write an article for us.

You want me to write an article?

I don't know whether you know this, but you're an inspiration to a lot of our readers.

There he is, number 77.

He's as good as me?

Maybe better.

Hey, Ernie.

Ernie, this is Floyd Little. Floyd, this is...

Ernie Davis.

2,386 yards, 360 carries, 6.6 yards a carry.

You good at math, huh?

You see, my plan is to be just like you, best Negro running back in the NCAA, Heisman Trophy all the way.

Then the NFL, make some money.

You got it all figured out, don't you?

What kind of bottle do you think this is?

Don't know. Don't have a label.


It could be a soda bottle, it could be a beer bottle, it could be anything.

No label.

You see, I never set out to be the best Negro running back.

I just wanted to be the best running back.

The best football player I could be. Period.

Look, now I'm...

Floyd, I'm never gonna play for Cleveland.

Or any other team.

My playing days are over.

So don't you look at that poster of me on your wall and tell me you want to be like me, because that isn't enough.

You're gonna have to do better than that.

You think you can?

Yes, sir.


But the thing is, I told Notre Dame I would sign with them.

Floyd, you know how Notre Dame loves their passing game.

My fear is a talented runner like yourself may get stuck polishing that Notre Dame bench with your butt.

You don't want that.

I want to know something.


What the hell did you say to Floyd Little?

Why? What happened?

Well, I'll be damned, he backed out on Notre Dame.

He's coming to Syracuse.

Well, let's see. I told him you like your runners lazy, and you like players who backtalk.


Anything else?

I told him you were a good coach.

I'm not gonna lie to him, Ernie, because I know how hard it's gonna be for him.

And I promise, if he works hard, he can run for that end zone whether he's in Boston or Mississippi.

And I won't tell him that he's the next Ernie Davis, because there won't be another Ernie Davis.

Can you believe they suited me up to run on the field and take a bow?

I'll be right here with you, son.

Please welcome to the field, number 45, from Syracuse at halfback, Ernie Davis.

Mr. Martin, in the end it turns out you did me a favor when you asked me to write this for The Post.

You see, yesterday was my 23rd birthday, and compared to some, that doesn't seem like a whole lot of life to talk about.

Thing is, I don't know how much more is in front of me.

And as you see from the number of pages, if you've read this far, I did have a few things to say, and I'm not sure how to end this or even if I want to.

It's funny. Most people think my life has been all about football.

I've even thought that myself.

But football is just a game.

What matters is what you play for.

Sometimes, when the game is close and everything is on the line, that's when you forget the crowd and the noise.

That's when it's just you against somebody else to see who is the better man.

That's what I like about the game.

Because at that moment you are friends and you are enemies

and you are brothers.