Running Man

In 2008 I did an assignment for the late Rugby Ralph Lauren blog about the movie “The Express.” This post became one of the earliest posts on Ivy Style, dating from early October 2008. It’s worth revisiting as the film has likely fallen into obscurity, and while not a masterpiece, it’s worth checking out for anyone interested in college sports, campus life during the heyday, and the Civil Rights movement.

“The Express” is a biopic about Ernie Davis, star running back for Syracuse University from 1959-1961 and the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy. While not as sartorially inspired as “School Ties,” another movie about football and prejudice in the ’50s, “The Express” is at least not as bad a football movie as “Leatherheads.” Style standouts in the film include the team’s crested blazers (pictured above in action at the school dance), and its traveling bags, which look like vintage doctor’s bags (back when doctors made house calls), except made of wool chenille, like a letterman’s jacket. The film stars Rob Brown as Davis and Dennis Quaid as his coach. — CC

19 Comments on "Running Man"

  1. Jim Brown: The greatest football player of all time, bar none.

  2. i thought that was either pele or george best?

  3. They have created a line of Syracuse merchandise around this film and you can find a replica vintage gym bag at http://www.syracuseorangegear.com although it is nylon not wool. It caught my eye when I saw it but I am an alum that is a sucker for this stuff.

  4. I recommend the movie “Everybody’s All American” starring Dennis Quaid. Total ivy style and a better football movie than all of these.

  5. whiskeydent | May 26, 2019 at 1:46 pm |

    Quaid is pretty good in the movie. Jessica Lange is breathtaking. The book of the same title by Frank Deford is also very good. In the South, issues of race and masculinity can be as blunt as a water cannon or as subtle as a smile.

  6. Old School Tie | May 26, 2019 at 6:13 pm |

    Given the whole scandal surrounding college entry based upon sporting rather than academic prowess, this is a very pertinent article. As a Brit I simply cannot get my head around the fact that the functionally illiterate can get into a good school simply because they can run fast or throw a ball well (or have their parents bribe officials to claim they can run fast or whatever, as we now know). It really diminishes the value of a US degree in a sense, and simply donning a sharp doeskin blazer and school tie does not obviate the need for a sharp intellect to go with it. High time US universities stopped this practice – let sports teams directly recruit fresh talent without the whole college thing.

  7. Ezra Cornell | May 26, 2019 at 7:27 pm |

    @old school tie
    Respectfully, no. This article isn’t pertinent at all to the current college admissions scandal. The film is about racial discrimination and how it blighted opportunities for many enormously talented black men and women (unless they could play sports). Sadly, few white colleges recruited smart black people; they either kept them out or recruited them if they could play sports. This didn’t make those students academically ineligible, but merely fortunate that they had a skill white schools wanted.

    As a Brit, of course American race relations are undoubtedly opaque, so excuse my brush back. But it’s important not to conflate the economic privilege of super wealthy donors who game the system with flat-out racism and the segregation policies, sanctioned by state and federal law, that for a time made sports the only way some African Americans could even have their college applications considered at white schools.

  8. whiskeydent | May 26, 2019 at 8:32 pm |

    @Old School Tie

    I object to the functionally illiterate line and the overall tone of your post. Your statement is strikingly similar to old racial stereotypes. Please don’t try to defend yourself by saying you weren’t referring to black athletes alone. Be a man.

    The athletes — both men and women — must have completed all necessary high school courses and pass entrance exams to get in. Moreover, many are the first in their families to attend college and grew up in less than ideal circumstances. Perhaps they don’t speak the King’s English well enough for you, but most of them do just fine.

    Is there corruption? Absolutely. Is all of it corrupt? No. Are there heart-warming success stories? You bet.

    Have you ever known a black athlete at a big state school in America? I’ve known many. I would suggest you gather more facts and discard the distasteful, negative stereotypes. The only thing worse than illiteracy is ignorance.

  9. Old School Tie | May 27, 2019 at 3:51 am |

    Come off it Whiskeydent, stop being so triggered, it was common knowledge good sportsmen were having other people sit all their exams for them and provide any coursework that was needed. Major college sports teams needed stars and reading and writing was neither here nor there. And it is pertinent to the current admissions scandal because the scam was realized through false claims of sporting – not academic – prowess. In other words, US universities valuing sports talent above academic. And of course, there are no black people in the UK so we know nothing at all about race. Perhaps you ought to take a look at the British press and see how frequently our law enforcement officers carry out extrajudicial executions of the UK black population before taking the holier-than-thou stance, because sure enough the problem is societal.

  10. whiskeydent | May 27, 2019 at 9:43 am |

    @Old School Tie

    I am definitely triggered when someone uses racial code words in a discussion about sports movies that depicted racism in America. I am especially triggered when someone uses the old crutch of “they’re all corrupt” to support his negative stereotype. You sound more like an Old South cracker than (presumably) an English gentleman.

    The college admissions scandal involved 10 coaches in six men’s and women’s sports, none of which were American football and four of which, ironically, were Euro football. One was even a sailing coach! The horror! And this means there is widespread corruption among 460,000 students in 24 NCAA sports? I don’t think so.

    One good example: The tennis coach at my alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, pled guilty to accepting a bribe to provide a tennis scholarship to a kid who didn’t play tennis. Yet, on that same team, a player just graduated with two degrees and a 3.96 GPA. He was a key player on a team that just won the national championship under an interim coach.

    Oh wait, he’s white, so he must not be corrupt.

  11. Why get all fired up? Movies are just entertainment sometimes based upon something or someone. I was not aware of the film or the tragic death of college football great Ernie Davis. Now I am.

    As far as the racism angle, according to Wikipedia “Journalists and film critics noted that a scene of “racist vitriol”[9] involving the October 24, 1959 game between Syracuse and West Virginia University was fictitious and, as Film Journal International critic Frank Lovece noted, “veers remarkably toward outright slander.”[10]”

    Calm down and cook a hot dog, it’s a holiday. Just don’t spill any catchup on your seersucker shirt. 😉

  12. Matt Holman | May 27, 2019 at 12:15 pm |

    whiskydent,
    Why do you feel the need to attack Old School Tie, when we all know how athletes get into college and how they get through college whether they’re black or white?

  13. whiskeydent | May 28, 2019 at 8:42 am |

    Say that to a linebacker who just graduated. Let’s see how that works out for you.

  14. MacMcConnell | May 28, 2019 at 10:44 am |

    Matt Hollman
    Now tell us how Blacks get into college. Surely you have a all encompassing theory.

    As an ex-middle linebacker I can tell you playing college sports is a full time job plus studies. Some player needed tutoring their freshman year, usually in English and math, so do the normal college population. Like the normal population the athlete that doesn’t pull the grade is gone.

    Truth is that in any group of young men you have liars, thieves, the brilliant and near morons, that includes prep schools.

  15. @Christian, Do you have any idea if there’s an archive of the Rugby blog available anywhere online? I read it semi-regularly when the brand’s website was in operation, but I’d like to revisit some of the posts if they’re available somewhere.

  16. RWK, even RL Mag isn’t archived with all my old articles, and it’s still active, so I’m sure there’s no way to find the Rugby blog except through the Wayback Machine. I think I actually used it for the Rugby blog a few months ago, but it’s very difficult to navigate.

  17. @Chrsitian, thanks. I’ve also tried looking on Wayback Machine, and it sounds like I’ve run into the same issues you have. It was hard to jump from one post to another without the format being lost or some content being removed.

  18. anonymous | June 16, 2019 at 4:11 pm |

    When the plug was pulled on Rugby, I went and took screenshots of SO many pages of the Rugby website, but not all… unfortunately this wasn’t one of them…

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