Plaza 44 Honors

Plaza 44 Honors Syracuse University’s Football Legends

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NOVEMBER 19, 2015)—New Jersey’s own master sculptor Brian Hanlon unveiled his bronze statues of Syracuse University greats Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Floyd Little and Coach Ben Schwartzwalder at the University’s Plaza 44 on November 14.

“This is a dream realized, and to be in the company of the real Jim Brown is awesome,” said Hanlon, a zealous sports fan who is also the Official Sculptor for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “The new statues will bring back the energy of these amazing football heroes to campus and will draw attention to how connected to each other they were. To see such great talent all in one place is awesome and such a rush!”

The three nine-foot statues, which rest on a three-foot custom-designed and engraved granite base featuring a biography and etched pictures, bring Plaza 44 to life by commemorating the magical #44 worn by all three Hall of Fame running backs who broke records, forever changed history and inspired future generations. The enchanted number was retired in 2005.

Jim Brown, considered by many as the greatest football player of all time, rushed for 197 yards, scored six touchdowns and kicked seven extra points for 43 points (a school record) in the season finale as a senior at Syracuse. Brown also excelled in basketball, track and lacrosse as an Orangeman before catapulting into an historic NFL career with the Cleveland Browns where he led the league in rushing yards for eight consecutive years and trounced on previous records set by his predecessors despite his early retirement at only 29. In those nine short years, he managed to rack up more than 12,000 rushing yards (with total yardage topping 15,000), 106 rushing touchdowns and a place in the Pro Bowl every year. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

Following in the footsteps of his idol, Jim Brown, and nicknamed “The Elmira Express,” Ernie Davis, became the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy in 1961 and was chosen number one overall by the Cleveland Browns in 1962. As an Orangeman in his junior year, he set a record of 7.8 yards per carry and was the third leading rusher in the country with 877 yards, having rushed for 100 yards in six of nine games. Before having the opportunity to play a professional game where he would’ve lined up in the backfield with Brown, Davis was diagnosed with leukemia in 1962. He died in 1963 at only 23, being remembered for his courage, integrity and power on the field.

Floyd Little called Ernie Davis his mentor and the most influential person in his life, having committed to Syracuse following Davis’ death despite an offer from West Point. In an attempt to emulate Davis, the 5’ 10” Little worked his way to becoming the only three-time All-American running back to compete for Syracuse and finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1965 and 1966. He was the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft in 1967, playing nine stellar years with the Denver Broncos. Little was also the first Bronco to win a rushing title, leading the AFC in rushing in 1970 with 901 yards, and the following year he became the first Bronco to eclipse 1,000 yards, gaining 1,133 to lead the NFL. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

Famed Coach Ben Schwartzwalder was also memorialized in bronze outside the entrance to the Ensley Center. Standing eight feet tall, the statue rests on a four-foot custom-designed and engraved granite base and that also features a biography and etched pictures.

“And Coach Schwartzwalder will still look like he’s keeping an eye on his players,” said Hanlon who was referring to the close proximity of the coach’s statue to the others.

Although he later became famous for his recruitment of a long line of talented running backs, which also included Jim Nance and Larry Csonka, Schwartzwalder is also known for persuading Syracuse alumnus William Pearson Tolley, who also acted as chancellor for 27 years, to increase the number of football scholarships from 12 a year to eventually 25 a year. For 25 seasons Schwartzwalder restored Syracuse to a football powerhouse, finishing his career in 1973 with a record of 178–96–3. In 1959 the team’s undefeated campaign garnered him a Coach of the Year title. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982.

For more photos, please visit:

Jim Brown Statue Gallery
Ernie Davis Statue Gallery
Floyd Little Statue Gallery
Ben Schwartzwalder Statue Gallery


Brian P. Hanlon is a classically-trained master sculptor and founder of Hanlon Sculpture Studio; a full-service art studio that designs, creates, and installs awe-inspiring and signature monuments featuring bronze, aluminum, stainless steel and granite sculptures, illustrative and informational graphics, and interactive kiosks.

Hanlon Sculpture Studio provides complete site design services from sculptures to hard and softscapes, and offers total project management from design to installation and unveiling.  In collaboration with administrative and athletic staff at colleges and universities, the studio develops the scope of artwork projects that are designed to enhance the spirit, pride and tradition of athletics and the campus community.