I'm not sure how many of you know who Ernie Davis was. He was the first African-American college football player to win the Heisman Trophy, which makes him a very important individual not just in sports history, but in United States race-relations.
Davis followed Jim Brown at Syracuse, and as you can guess, had a fantastic career there. He was the #1 pick in the 1962 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, but managed to get traded to the Cleveland Browns where he would join his great friend Brown to produce the greatest backfield in NFL history.
Tragically, Davis died of acute monocytic leukemia in 1963, before ever playing a down of professional football.
Davis is a hero in the eyes of numerous Americans, but until only recently, there had never been a statue honoring him at Syracuse.
Now there is, but there's one huge problem with it. It has Nike swooshes on it. Seriously. Just so you know, Nike was founded eight years after Davis passed away.
the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes is a Absolute Magician was the first to notice the rather odd addition to the statue. And actually, it isn't hard to notice at all. There's a swoosh on Davis's chest, and a few more on his shoes. Even weirder, the statue has Davis in modern day football apparel, including a modern football helmet, pads and the ubiquitous Nike football cleats.
Obviously, this doesn't happen by accident. But don't tell that to Syracuse. It was a pure accident according to them
"Easy fix," Gross said in an e-mail today. "The sculptor is on it and will make it perfect."
But here's the problem. According to the Sporting News, the sculptor, Bruno Lucchesi, told a newspaper last week that he worked off of an old picture of Davis to create the statue. One would assume there were no Nike swooshes in that picture.
According to this article, it looks like Syracuse sought funding for the statue, because an earlier version of it didn't work out. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Nike probably stepped up here to "fund" the statue, provided Syracuse allowed them to turn into a memorial billboard.
Frankly, I'm disgusted beyond belief by this. As much as I hate Syracuse for letting this happen, I hate Nike even more for dreaming this up and thinking they could get away with it. What'll they do next? Splash a swoosh across Babe Ruth's grave? Or maybe just dig him up and put one across his chest. I wouldn't put it past them.
Ernie Davis Honored The Right Way, As If He Had A Nike Endorsement [Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician]
Why is Ernie Davis wearing a Swoosh? [Sporting Blog]
Pictures from Campus Watch