Amherst Football Alum Rob Brown to Co-Star in Important New Film: The Express

Rob Brown 1
Amherst football alum Rob Brown (#44) will star in the
upcoming movie The Express.

AMHERST, MA - Amherst College football alum Rob Brown will star alongside Dennis Quaid in the upcoming film The Express, set to release this fall. Brown will play Ernie Davis, who died from leukemia at the age of 23 shortly after becoming the first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy in 1961.

Ernie Davis made history on and off the field during his collegiate career at Syracuse University, including standing up against racism. At the 1960 Cotton Bowl in Texas, Brown was named the MVP of the game, but was told that after accepting his award, he would have to leave the banquet facility. Davis refused and his teammates boycotted the banquet.

President John F. Kennedy followed Davis' career and in 1963, when Davis' hometown of Elmira, N.Y. chose to celebrate his life, Kennedy sent a telegram, reading:

"Seldom has an athlete been more deserving of such a tribute. Your high standards of performance on the field and off the field, reflect the finest qualities of competition, sportsmanship and citizenship. The nation has bestowed upon you its highest awards for your athletic achievements. It's a privilege for me to address you tonight as an outstanding American, and as a worthy example of our youth. I salute you."

Brown recently caught up with members of the Amherst Football staff at the Black Coaches and Administrators convention in Atlanta, where he was a keynote speaker at the Images of Excellence Luncheon. Amherst assistant athletic director Billy McBride and assistant football coach Akeemo Cedeno traveled to the convention to hear Brown speak and view a special screening of the film.

For McBride, it was a thrilling experience to see his former player on the big screen in such a historically powerful role. “This is without a doubt something that Amherst Athletics and the football program can be proud of,” McBride says.

Brown adds that, in making the film, he drew on his experience playing for head Amherst football coach E.J. Mills. “Coach Mills always talked about the little things we need to do to gain an inch,” Brown says. “He also taught us to have an overall respect for the game.”

At first, Brown knew little about Ernie Davis. “After reading the script,” he says, “I felt like I had to do this film.” He wanted to put Davis into current conversations, to show football fans that Davis was the man “who made it possible for guys like [former Ohio State quarterback, and African-American] Troy Smith to win the Heisman.”

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Brown will play Ernie Davis, who was the first African-
American to win the Heisman in 1961.

At the BCA convention screening, McBride and Cedeno were joined in the audience by Amherst alum and former admissions staff member Stan Calhoun ’94 and a handful of members of Ernie Davis’s family. After the screening the Davis family stood to honor Brown and the rest of the group for their work.

Before enrolling at Amherst, Brown made his acting debut in Finding Forrester opposite Sean Connery. He has since starred in Coach Carter and Take the Lead with Samuel L. Jackson and Antonio Banderas, respectively.

The Express and Brown have grabbed the attention of not only Hollywood, but also the NFL. Eight-time pro-bowler Deion Sanders interviewed Brown on prior to this year’s NFL Draft in New York City. To see the full interview, please click the link below: