I don't twitch in anticipation for the next sporting event, but like many people who fall outside of the normal sports radar, there are legends that stick out. They've transcended their sport and become inextricably linked to our consciousness. Some, like Michael Jordan and Lance Armstrong, became the face of their sport, turning disinterest into rapt attention. But what would've happened if Armstrong lost his battle with cancer, or found his career cut short by illness? They'd probably fade into public memory much like Lou Gherig, who is possibly known more for his illness than his athletic achievements. However, what if they got sick before they ever had a chance at a professional career?

Director Gary Fleder will explore this in February, when he begins to film the sports biopic The Express, based on Robert Gallagher's book, Ernie Davis: The Elmira Express. The movie will tell the story of Ernie Davis, a football star from the sixties who never played a professional game. As an amateur at SyracuseUniversity , Davis not only achieved All-American honors twice, but he was also the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy, the Holy Grail of college football. Shortly after being drafted into the NFL, Davis was diagnosed with leukemia. Not even one year later, Davis was dead, never having the chance to play professional ball.

Davis was obviously destined for great things -- both athletically and socially. I can only wonder what he would have achieved as a talented African American athlete in a race-torn country. Fleder has a great story in his hands, and I'm intrigued to see what he does with it.

categories Cinematical