Ernie Davis wore Nikes? Not! Print
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Wednesday, 17 September 2008 12:12
NCAAF Headline News

 SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -Ernie Davis never wore Nikes, until now.
A new statue of the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy depicts him in modern-day football gear - including Nike cleats.
The problem is that Davis led Syracuse to the national title in 1959 and won the Heisman two years later, before Nike was formed.
The university unveiled the Davis statue last Saturday, a day after ``The Express'' - a movie about Davis' life - had its world premiere at the Landmark Theatre in downtown Syracuse. The film opens nationwide in October.
Call it an honest mistake by the sculptor, 82-year-old Bruno Lucchesi of New York City, who said he was asked to work off a picture of Davis. The school said it also sent him football gear.
The statue has Davis wearing his famous No. 44 jersey, but ``NIKE'' is inscribed on the heel of each cleat, there's a swoosh on his chest, and he's holding a helmet much different from the one he wore.
discrepancy with the shoes and the helmet,'' Syracuse University spokesman Kevin Morrow said Wednesday.
Lucchesi, who was contacted by the university last October, said it took two months to create a clay sculpture of Davis and bronzing was completed in May.
Morrow said the university took possession of the statue in early August, but it was kept secure in its protective packaging to avoid damage until it was moved to its final destination and unwrapped late last week.
Morrow said the university was aware of the errors before an online blogger first pointed them out, but there wasn't enough time ``to take corrective action before this past weekend's activities.''
``Bruno will be making the appropriate modifications as soon as possible,'' Morrow said.
Athletic director Daryl Gross said ``the sculptor will make it perfect.''
Nike, which has a contract with the Syracuse University athletic department, was quick to dispel thoughts the company might have had something to do with the mistakes.
``It's pretty straightforward. There wasn't any involvement on our end,'' Nike spokesman Kejuan Wilkins said. ``We didn't even know the statue was being erected. Is it embarrassing? The university has addressed it publicly, and we're glad to hear that they're going back to make the correction. If there was any involvement on our end, we wouldn't shy away from it.''
Syracuse, breaking many of his records, and was the first pick of the 1962 NFL Draft. Prior to the draft, the Cleveland Browns worked out a trade with the Washington Redskins for Davis, who was to join Brown in the Cleveland backfield. Tragically, Davis died of acute monocytic leukemia in 1963 - before ever playing a down of professional football.
Ironically, Lucchesi was commissioned by the athletic department to create a statue of Davis about a month after another statue of Davis, by Rochester artist Sharon Locke, was unveiled during the 2007 season-opener. Gross said the university wanted a new statue because Locke's piece was rushed and ``didn't come out the way we expected.'' The new work stands on the quad behind the Carrier Dome.
Senior co-captain Jake Flaherty said he didn't notice the errors on the new work when he looked at it for the first time.
``That's kind of weird. We've got a contract with Nike. I guess that's 2008,'' he said with a laugh. ``Regardless of that, though, it's a great way to honor him. That'll be there forever.''
Sophomore defensive tackle Anthony Perkins said he noticed the modern-day helmet Davis is wearing in the sculpture, but not the Nike or the swooshes. He said was OK with it.
``It's a little symbolism - new school meets old school,'' Perkins said. ``I believe if Ernie was here today, he'd have a pair of Nikes on.''

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