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A Halo For A Helmet: The Whole Story Of Ernie Davis Paperback – October 22, 2008
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I did not know Ernie personally, however, I do remember him in the halls of EFA and especially remember the pep rally in the cafeteria with the cheerleaders standing on the tables leading the rally. Those were heady times and some of the best of my life. I went to several of the football games and remember some of the fantastic runs that he made.
Thanks to Coralee for giving us a great story and the "true" life story of a great man.
A Halo for a Helmet: The Whole Story of Ernie Davis
And for Burch, her foundation for the book starts at Elmira Free Academy, where she was in the class of 1960 and Davis was two years ahead of her, but had already forged a path of athletic excellence and a reputation for being an outstanding role model. As a sophomore, Burch was a cheerleader and saw the generosity of Davis; while both were waiting for practice to start - Davis was a star basketball player - he would teach her how to shoot a basketball.
"There was no one in that school or that city who did not believe that Ernie was their special friend just like I had," Burch writes.
The gridiron exploits of Davis at Syracuse University are legendary and it culminated with being awarded the 1961 Heisman Trophy, the first African-American to achieve that lofty honor. Drafted by the Washington Redskins, but traded to the Cleveland Browns, Davis never played a down in pro football, being diagnosed with leukemia in 1962 and losing his battle to that form of cancer in May 1963 at the age of 24.
"I was at Syracuse University the year Ernie died," writes Burch. "He was on campus just weeks before his death and still took the time to single people out and make them feel special."
Burch goes the extra yards and strikes pay dirt by meticulously telling the rest of the story of a remarkable life.
Once you start reading, it's hard to put the book down.
She makes the characters come alive and paints a true picture of the times during which Ernie Davis lived and how he handled the prejudice he encountered. As someone who also grew up during that time period, it all rang true to me. It would have been an honor to have known him.
The distinguishing feature of this book is that it is told from a personal perspective and based on several interviews of people who best knew Ernie Davis. The conversation style of the book makes it flow like a novel, so it is a very quick read. The writing style works very well because Burch knew Davis personally and took tremendous time to document perspectives of Davis from his friends. In fact, John Brown, a college roommate, personally reviewed the manuscript and commented on the book.
The story also clarifies some of the misperceptions that people may have had about Davis if they only watched The Express. While the Express was a movie I enjoyed, it really represented more of an outline of Ernie Davis's life than the full story. One missing aspect of the movie was Ernie's influence on so many people. These stories extend to Ernie's last days, which provides some interesting historical perspectives (e.g., the debates by Art Modell and Paul Brown over whether to play Ernie, which was the beginning of an important split between the two that influenced the history of the NFL).
All in all a great book for any fan of history, and a particular interest for any fan of college football. On the 50th anniversary of Ernie Davis's historical Heisman, hopefully he will get the recognition he deserves for being a truly great person along with being a great football player.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I ordered this for my sports crazed husband, hoping to get him to read something other than the sports page. He enjoyed it very much and even discussed it with me when he finished.Published 22 months ago by Otis Potus
I really wanted to read the book after I saw the movie on Ernie Davis. I really enjoyed reading the book.Published on December 19, 2013 by Tia Armstrong
Wonderful book good research and history. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this subject. Buy this book!Published on December 18, 2013 by Heather Lana
"A Halo For A Helmet: The Whole Story of Ernie Davis" by Coralee Burch, is a must read for anyone familiar with the life of the legendary football player. Read morePublished on June 14, 2010 by DaKu