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A drama based on the life of college football hero Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy.


1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Justin Jones ...
Danny McCarthy ...


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He changed our country... one yard at a time.


Biography | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic content, violence and language involving racism, and for brief sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

10 October 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Express: The Ernie Davis Story  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$4,562,675 (USA) (10 October 2008)


$9,589,875 (USA) (31 October 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


| (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Nicole Behari plays the girlfriend of Ernie Davis (Rob Brown) in this movie and in the movie "42" the wife of Jackie Robinson played by Chadwick Bozeman who had a brief role in "The Express" as Floyd Little. See more »


At the end of the movie when Ernie Davis is introduced with the team before Cleveland's preseason game (with the Pittsburgh Steelers), he is shown wearing his Cleveland Browns uniform. In reality, Davis was introduced to the crowd and was not in uniform. According to John Brown, his former Syracuse and Browns teammate and best friend, "That night, he had on his skinny tie, tweed jacket, and nice shirt". Owner Art Modell wanted Ernie introduced in his uniform. But, Coach Paul Brown wouldn't allow it because Ernie wasn't officially on Cleveland's roster and therefore not entitled to wear it. See more »


[First Line]
Ernie Davis: 21 straight lines five yards apart. That is a football field. But there are other lines you don'T see that run deeper and wider. All the way through the country, and aren't part of any game.
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Features 1960 Cotton Bowl (1960) See more »


Move Over Little Dog
Written by Lonnie Brooks
Performed by The Lonnie Brooks Blues Band
Courtesy of Alligator Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A punt here, a punt there
29 November 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Loosely based on the life of the first black football player to win the Heisman Trophy, this follows a chap named Ernie Davis -- a name most viewers are unlikely to be familiar with -- throughout his school years. When he reaches Syracuse College, he finds he is one of two black players on his team. His coach is played by Dennis Quaid. The period was just far enough back in time that there were very few black football players, and in some states, blacks could not stay in the same hotels or attend social functions with whites. All of this is dealt with in a forthright manner, although some facts have been slightly altered to punch home the drama of the era. Quaid's coach is a gruff old man with a heart of gold, a role Quaid likely will be playing more and more often as he ages. You may not recognize many of the actors in this, but they are uniformly excellent. Worth a watch, even if you dislike football.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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