In 1963, running back Ernie Davis died at the age of 23 due to leukemia. Prior to his death, he developed a reputation as one the greatest players in college football history en route to winning the Heisman Trophy. Davis' life later became the focus of a 2008 movie known as The Express. Here is how to watch the biopic.
The Express is not currently available on any free streaming service. Viewers can rent the film on a number of sites, including Amazon, Fandango Now and Apple TV. The price of rental starts at $3.99, while the HD purchase is $13.99. The Express was previously available on Netflix, but that is no longer the case.
Davis spent three seasons at Syracuse (1959-1961) and rose to national prominence during his career. He was also named first-team All-American twice during his collegiate career. During his sophomore season, Davis led Syracuse to the national championship and capped off a perfect 11-0 season with a victory over the Texas Longhorns. He set a rushing record as a junior by averaging 7.8 yards-per-carry. Davis capped off his career with an 8-3 senior season and a victory over the Miami Hurricanes during the Liberty Bowl.
Directed by Gary Fleder and released in 2008, The Express tells the story of Davis and his journey to win the Heisman Trophy as a star running back for the Syracuse Orangemen. He joined head coach Ben Schwartzwalder (Dennis Quaid) and became one of college football's most exciting players. He won the top honor — becoming the first African American player to do so — before entering the NFL as the first overall pick in the 1962 NFL Draft.
While the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins selected Davis, the organization actually traded him to the Cleveland Browns. Davis never played in an NFL game, however, due to being diagnosed with leukemia in the summer of 1962. He died less than one year later at the age of 23. He was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
The Express drew praise for having "its heart in the right place" and delivering an important story. However, the critics and audience members alike did not universally love the film. Several people called it "full of cliches" and said that it falls far short of a great movie. One reviewer, on the other hand, did say that The Express is a solid film that does justice to the running back's legacy.