Syracuse pulled out all the stops in unveiling the three statues on Plaza 44 Saturday morning. Of course new Athletic Director Mark Coyle was there, and SU Special Assistant to the Athletic Director Floyd Little was in attendance, but also at the ceremony was arguably the best football player ever, Jim Brown. Brown, along with Little and Ernie Davis have their place cemented in SU history, as if they didn’t already, now in the way of 9 foot tall statues outside the Ensley Center.
Brown was taken aback by the recognition, consistently trying to push credit to everyone else involved; whether that was Davis, Little, Coyle, Chancellor Kent Syverud or the donors who made the Plaza possible. At the ceremony Saturday morning, Brown couldn’t have been more humble.
When asked if he ever could have imagined the number 44 having this kind of impact on the school when he was assigned the number in 1954, Brown said, “No, no I never thought of it. Never imagined it. Even today.”
Asked what Ernie Davis would think about the statue and the love that is felt for him and his number, Brown said, “Ernie is a first rate individual. He was a great human being. And I’m sure he would appreciate the work that went into this. The people that are here today, even you the media, he would appreciate that you think it is worth covering. He was a little different than me, he didn’t have an edge to him. All human beings liked him, and he had the ability to show love to almost everybody.”
Floyd Little was beside himself. Excited not only for the honor to him, but also to be with his “hero” as he called him Jim Brown, and Ernie Davis, the man who recruited him to SU. Floyd said if Ernie were here he would be “very, very pleased… about all he accomplished and that his name is still bantered about at Syracuse University.”
Floyd added he didn’t quite know what 44 meant when he got here. Keep in mind, Jim Brown and Ernie Davis had just held down the running back position, and Davis recruited Floyd and gave him the final pitch to come to SU. But Floyd says he didn’t know whether he would be the starter until the day of the first game. He adds, “The number, knowing Jim Brown and Ernie Davis wore it, was significant. I knew it would be special. But I didn’t know how special, until over the years when they compared me to these great runners.”
Look, the ceremony was important. Yes, it is a long time in the making with the Ensley Center taking longer than expected, but now that the building is open to Syracuse’s teams, it was time to honor the past. Jim Brown hadn’t been up at Syracuse University for a long time, and he is an important figure in the history of the school. Of course, Ernie Davis has been rightfully honored previously with a statue outside the dome, and both a dorm and the Carrier Dome field being named in his honor. But Floyd hadn’t truly been honored by SU with the exception of the 44 number retirement, and that was a ceremony along with Jim Brown and all the other SU 44s.
These 3 SU running backs were crucial to the university. Brought the program to prominence. Won a Heisman, a national championship, All-American recognition. Every other school honors their greats, and now Syracuse has as well. It was a ceremony done right and beautiful statues that will stand the tests of time outside of the Ensley Center.
Posted By: Seth Goldberg