This biopic focuses on the relationship of Ernie Davis (1939-1963), a gifted African-American athlete, and his coach from 1958 to 1962 at Syracuse University, Ben Schwartzwalder (1909-1993). Schwartzwalder recruits Davis with the help of All-American running back, Jim Brown. The civil rights movement is gaining steam; Davis experiences prejudice on campus, in town, and on the field, sometimes from teammates. How he handles it and how he challenges Schwartzwalder to stand up for his players provide a counterpoint to several great seasons that lead first to a national championship and then to the Heismann Trophy. Written by
Dennis Quaid's character plays as a coach who used to coach Jim Brown. In Any Given Sunday (1999), Quaid stars as the veteran quarterback while the real Jim Brown plays as a defensive line coach. See more »
The big bonus check Art Modell presents to Ernie Davis, and the letter Davis mails to the editor of the Saturday Evening Post, contain addresses with ZIP codes. They were introduced to the public in 1963, a few weeks after Davis died. Before that, city addresses had zone numbers (ex. Cleveland 14, O.). See more »
Ernie Davis is 10 years old in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. He stutters but runs really fast. He lives with his grandfather Pops (Charles S. Dutton). His mother Marie Davis returns telling him that she's remarried. They move to the white town of Elmira, NY. Years later, Syracuse University football head coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid) is looking to replace Jim Brown who has just signed with the Browns. With Jim Brown's help, he signs the wide-eyed Davis (Rob Brown) who would go on to become the first negro to win the Heisman Trophy.
This is a functional biopic taking on all the familiar ideas. It is beautifully shot. Rob Brown has a wide-opened personality with his bright-eye performance. The biggest problem for me is that the movie recruits the audience with a more interesting character in Jim Brown. I can't help but think that Jim Brown has the more compelling story. There isn't anything wrong but there isn't necessarily anything new. It's a workmanlike effort.
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