Sins of Omission

Mr. Outside: Glenn Davis

As the 20th century drew to a close lists of the century’s greatest figures in various fields of endeavor appeared regularly in newspapers and magazines.  Revealing that memories were short, the lists tended to be dominated by figures of recent vintage, especially in the sports world.  This is probably a consequence of the ephemeral nature of the contributions of athletes, unlike those of scientists or physicians or writers.  I should think, though, that athletes should be judged by how they performed against their competition.  By that standard, no running back in the history of college football outshines Glenn Davis of West Point fame.  Yet, Glenn Davis was left off a few of the top-ten lists I saw for running backs.

When I was young, the two running backs most talked about in our family were Glenn Davis and Ernie Nevers, the latter because he played football with the McGrath boys at Central High in Superior, Wisconsin, and went on to become all-everything at Stanford, and the former because my big brother was a fan of Army football.  My brother fed me Davis stories, statistics, and photos since I was four or five years old.  Glenn Davis was the halfback I wanted to be.  A decade earlier he was the halfback every aspiring football player wanted to be.

Davis was a Southern California boy who excelled in every sport his high school—Bonita in La Verne—offered.  On the track...

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