Ben Davis (American football)

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Ben Davis
No. 28
Position: Cornerback, Return specialist
Personal information
Date of birth: (1945-10-30) October 30, 1945 (age 69)
Career information
College: Defiance College
NFL draft: 1967 / Round: 17 / Pick: 439
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Interceptions: 19
Kickoff return yards: 860
Punt return yards: 240

Benjamin Frank "Ben" Davis (born October 30, 1945) is a former professional American football cornerback and return specialist for ten years in the National Football League. He is the brother of political activist Angela Davis.

Early years[edit]

Benjamin Davis was born in 1945 in Birmingham, Alabama.[1] His father, a graduate of St. Augustine's College, a traditional black college in Raleigh, North Carolina, was briefly a high school history teacher, but found it more lucrative to own and operate a service station in the black section of Birmingham.[2] His mother, with an MA from New York University, was an elementary school teacher.[2] The family owned a large home in a middle class mixed neighborhood called "Dynamite Hill"[2] after so-called "night rider" terrorists began bomb attacks on civil rights leaders clustered there.[2]

To avoid the racial strife for which Dynamite Hill was named, children in the Davis family spent time with friends and relatives elsewhere. Ben graduated from a New Jersey high school at the age of 15,[1] then marked time by attending a prep school in Maine until he was old enough to enroll in Defiance College[1] in rural Defiance, Ohio.

“I went to Defiance because I was looking for the same type of environment as the prep school,” Davis told Fred Greetham in 2001.[1] “I was in the band in high school, but I decided to go out for the football team in college. By the time we were seniors, we were undefeated.”

Professional career[edit]

Davis was drafted in the 17th (and last) round by the Cleveland Browns in the 1967 NFL Draft.[3] With Paul Warfield, Gary Collins and Clifton McNeil already established as receivers, Davis was switched to a defensive role - and he did well. In his rookie year, he led the league in punt returns, averaging 12.7 yards per return, and one 52-yard return for a touchdown. He also led the Browns in returning kickoffs, with 27 returns totalling 708 yards, including one of 63 yards.[1]

Only Leroy Kelly (15.6), Greg Pruitt (12.9) and Eric Metcalf (12.9) ever had better years, returning punts for the Browns.[1]

In 1968, Davis started as cornerback, and led the team with 8 interceptions. Others were nipping at his heels: the season's 32 interceptions that year set a Browns' record. His individual performance is the 3rd-best in Browns history - and he still holds the record for seven consecutive games with an interception.[1]

A torn anterior cruciate ligament benched Davis during the 1969 season, and half the 1970 season.[1]

He was traded to the Detroit Lions in 1974 for a 5th-round draft pick.[3] The Browns picked Jim Cope from Ohio State University, who fared poorly in the NFL. Davis, however, played two more seasons for the Lions before retiring from the field.

Post-NFL[edit]

Davis went into copier sales after his football career ended, then went into cable television and bought a radio station in Tulsa, Oklahoma.[1] Since 1995, he's owned and operated Britt Business Systems, a Xerox dealer, in the Cleveland suburb of Beachwood, Ohio. Davis has lived in Cleveland since 1967, even commuting to Detroit when he played for the Lions.

Personal[edit]

Benjamin and Sylvia Davis have two grown children, who both live in California.[1] Davis's sister, Angela Davis, was a prominent political activist in the 1970s. A younger brother, Reggie Davis, also attended Defiance College.[4]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Where are they now?
  2. ^ a b c d Angela Davis arrested
  3. ^ a b Browns draft history
  4. ^ Defiance College Defender, November 10, 1970