Sports Legends Attend “The Express” Premiere at the Historic Landmark Theater

“Sports Legends Attend “The Express” Premiere at the Historic Landmark Theater”
By Michael Aaron Gallagher

From the 1959 Syracuse University Championship Football Team to NFL greats like Jim Brown, Art Monk, and Floyd Little, the orange carpet premiere of “The Express: The Ernie Davis Story,” was an unforgettable moment in sports history. The event, which raised money for the Ernie Davis Fund, brought together some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment.Actress Nicole Behaire (center), who plays Sarah Ward, Ernie Davis’ girlfriend in “The Express,” poses with Syracuse University Cheerleaders on the orange carpet at the world premier of the film.

SU Athletic Director Dr. Daryl Gross described the movie premiere as a “monumental weekend” for the university. The motion picture, which includes shots of the Syracuse campus, involved an unprecedented collaboration between the athletic department and Universal Pictures, which chose to hold the world premiere at the very same theater that the original 1959 team members, including Ernie Davis, once frequented.

Many of Ernie’s former teammates, including Ger Schwedes and John Brown were in attendance, as event organizers, sponsors, and fans paid tribute to one of the most celebrated running backs in football history. At a press conference earlier in the day, Brown, who was one of Ernie’s best friends (and the inspiration for the character Jack Buckley, played by actor Omar Benson Miller) said, “I’m happy that we could gather here today and see what I hope, and what I’ve been told, will be a wonderful movie, about a very wonderful fella.”

The story of Ernie Davis continues to be an inspiration to many. For those who knew him, it was especially difficult to put into words the lasting difference he has made, both on and off the field.

Ger Schwedes, team captain for the 1959 team (played by actor Max Osinski) said, “When people ask me… ‘describe Ernie Davis,’ besides all the accolades [and] adjectives I could possibly come up with, I say… ‘if I had to design the perfect son, I would have described Ernie Davis. That’s the kind of individual he was.’”Syracuse University sports legends “Coach Mac” Dick MacPherson (left) and Don McPherson (right) attending the premiere of “The Express” at the historic Landmark Theater.

The nationwide theatrical release of “The Express,” which is scheduled for Oct. 10, will bring the Davis story to audiences who may not be familiar with his extraordinary achievements and the obstacles he overcame during his life. Among the thousands of people who showed their support for the project, were former SU football coach Dick MacPherson (“Coach Mac”) and former SU star quarterback, Don McPherson.
Syracuse University Hall of Fame Basketball Coach, Jim Boeheim (right) and wife Juli (left) pose for photographers at the world premiere of “The Express” (Universal Pictures).

Other notable sports figures, who attended the screening, included Hall of Fame SU Basketball Coach, Jim Boeheim, along with his wife Juli. Boeheim recently returned from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, where he helped lead the US Men’s Basketball team to a gold medal.

One of the final celebrities to arrive on the orange carpet was NBC Sportscaster Bob Costas, a former student at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, who provided the voice-over talent for the movie’s trailer.
Legendary NBC sportscaster Bob Costas (front) smiles for the cameras, while NBC Universal President and CEO Jeff Zucker (back) walks the orange carpet for the premiere of “The Express.”

The Universal Pictures premiere of “The Express” brought together some of the most celebrated names in the world of sports, to pay tribute to the life and legend of SU running back Ernie Davis, the first African American to win the Heisman trophy. From celebrities and broadcasters, to the crowd of onlookers that gathered outside the Landmark Theater to witness the historic premiere, the event celebrated the true legacy of one of sports’ most beloved champions.

The Express” (Universal Pictures), starring Dennis Quaid and Rob Brown will be in theaters beginning Oct. 10. For more information on the film, visit: To find out about Syracuse University Athletics, visit:

“Sports Legends Attend “The Express” Premiere at the Historic Landmark Theater”
All photographs by Michael Aaron Gallagher
Copyright © 2008 by Michael Aaron Gallagher

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