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Ernie Davis - Football Phenom From Syracuse

Updated on April 16, 2013

Unless you are an avid football fan (American Football), you may have never heard of Ernie Davis. Even if you are not an avid football fan, you probably have heard of Jim Brown.

Both men attended Syracuse University. Both men played football. Both men wore number 44. Both men were the best running backs in the nation. Both men were All-American. Both men were on the Heisman ballot. Both men set school rushing records. Both men starred in the Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas. Both men were 6' 2" tall. Both men were with the Cleveland Browns of the NFL.

Ernie Davis never played a down for the Cleveland Browns. He was diagnosed with leukemia following his senior year at Syracuse while preparing for the College All-Star game. Ernie would pass away in 1963 at the age of only 23.

Could Ernie have been even better than Jim Brown who by many is considered the greatest NFL player in history? You be the judge. Jim Brown averaged 6.2 yards per carry in his senior year. Ernie Davis averaged 7.8 yards per carry in his junior year. Jim Brown was All-American his senior year. Ernie Davis was All-American both his junior and senior years.

Jim Brown came in 5th for the Heisman Trophy while Ernie Davis became the first African American to win the trophy. Jim Brown never won a national championship at Syracuse while Ernie helped guide his team to the title in his sophomore season with a perfect season capped off by a victory over the University of Texas in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Jim Brown was selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Ernie Davis was the first player selected in the NFL draft in 1962.

President Kennedy had followed Ernie's career and requested a meeting while Ernie was in New York to receive the Heisman Trophy. Ironically, these two men, both at the peak of their vocations would pass away in 1963.

Some still wonder what if? On another note, the two would have been in the same backfield together at Cleveland. Would that have been amazing?

They retired the number 44 at Syracuse.

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