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Willie D. Davis

Broadcast executive and football player Willie D. Davis was born on July 24, 1934, in Lisbon, Louisiana to Nodie Bell and David Davis. Recruited to Grambling College (now Grambling State University) by football coach Eddie Robinson, Davis captained the football team and was a student on the dean’s list for two years. In 1956, he graduated from Grambling with his B.S. degree in math and industrial arts.

Davis was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the seventeenth round of the 1956 National Football League Draft. However, that same year, Davis was also drafted into the U.S. Army and was unable to begin his NFL career until 1958. After two years with the Browns, Davis was traded to the Green Bay Packers. For ten seasons, Davis played 138 consecutive regular season games and was a member of all five of Vince Lombardi’s NFL title-winning teams, playing in Super Bowls I and II. In his career with the Green Bay Packers, Davis recovered twenty-one fumbles, setting a team record, never missing any of the 162 games in his twelve-year tenure. Davis was awarded the Associated Press’ All-Pro honors in 1962 and from 1964 to 1967. During the last two years of his football career, Davis studied at the University of Chicago, earning his M.B.A degree in 1968. The following year, the Packers honored Davis’ retirement with Willie Davis Day. That same year, Davis purchased the West Coast Beverage Company and served as its president for eighteen years, while also working as a color commentator on the NFL telecasts for NBC in the early 1970s. Since 1976, Davis has been the president and chief executive officer of All Pro Broadcasting, Inc., a Los Angeles broadcasting company which owns radio stations in the Midwest and Southern California. In 1981, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Davis served as the director of the 1984 Olympics Committee in Los Angeles in 1984. That same year, President Reagan appointed him to the President’s Commission on the Executive Exchange.

Davis has served on the boards of the Sara Lee Corporation, the National Association of Broadcasters, Dow Chemical Company, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Johnson Controls, MGM Mirage, Manpower, Fidelity National Financial, Wisconsin Energy, Strong Management Fund, Mattel Toys, Schlitz Brewing Company, Fireman’s Fund Insurance, Bassett Furniture, Alliance Bank, the Green Bay Packers, the Kauffman Foundation, Occidental College and K-Mart. Davis is also an Emeritus Trustee for the University of Chicago and a Trustee at Marquette University. In 2001, Davis co-chaired and founded the Vince Lombardi Titletown Legends, a charitable organization created to assist various charities throughout Wisconsin. Davis was named the Walter Camp Man of the Year, was ranked 69th on The Sporting News’ list of the 100 Greatest Football Players and was given the Career Achievement Award from the NFL Alumni. Davis and his wife Ann have a son, Duane, and a daughter, Lori.

Willie D. Davis was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 9, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.200

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/9/2007

Last Name

Davis

Middle Name

D

Schools

Washington High School

Grambling State University

University of Chicago

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Willie

Birth City, State, Country

Lisbon

HM ID

DAV20

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

Early Start Beats Fast Running.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/24/1934

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Steak, Collard Greens

Short Description

Broadcast executive, football player, and entrepreneur Willie D. Davis (1934 - ) played for the Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers, winning Super Bowls I and II. In 1981, Davis was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was also the president and chief executive officer of All Pro Broadcasting, Inc.

Employment

All Pro Broadcasting

West Coast Beverage Company

NBC

Green Bay Packers (Football team)

Cleveland Browns (Football team : 1946-1995)

United States Army

Favorite Color

Blue, Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Willie D. Davis' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Willie D. Davis lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Willie D. Davis describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Willie D. Davis remembers his mother's religious involvement and career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Willie D. Davis recalls his decision to play football

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Willie D. Davis describes his father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Willie D. Davis recalls his relationship with his father as an adult

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Willie D. Davis remembers his maternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Willie D. Davis describes his paternal grandparents

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Willie D. Davis recalls his early childhood in Lisbon, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Willie D. Davis describes his earliest memories of Texarkana, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Willie D. Davis recalls his family life

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Willie D. Davis remembers his community in Texarkana, Arkansas

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Willie D. Davis describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Willie D. Davis describes his elementary school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Willie D. Davis recalls his personality in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Willie D. Davis talks about his early aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Willie D. Davis describes the role of religion in his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Willie D. Davis remembers his junior high school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Willie D. Davis recalls teachers and friends at Booker T. Washington High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Willie D. Davis describes his high school activities and aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Willie D. Davis recalls the football team at Booker T. Washington High School

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Willie D. Davis describes his decision to attend Grambling College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Willie D. Davis recalls meeting Coach Eddie Robinson

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Willie D. Davis talks about his hesitation to attend Grambling College

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Willie D. Davis shares his first impressions of the Grambling football team

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Willie D. Davis recalls his attempt to leave Grambling College

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Willie D. Davis remembers his college girlfriend

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Willie D. Davis recalls becoming comfortable at Grambling College

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Willie D. Davis recalls a memorable football game at Grambling College

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Willie D. Davis talks about being drafted by the Cleveland Browns

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Willie D. Davis remembers his service in the U.S. Army

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Willie D. Davis recalls playing for the Cleveland Browns

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Willie D. Davis remembers being traded to the Green Bay Packers

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Willie D. Davis describes his offseason job as a substitute teacher

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Willie D. Davis recalls playing for the Green Bay Packers

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Willie D. Davis recalls winning NFL championships with the Green Bay Packers

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Willie D. Davis remembers earning his M.B.A. from the University of Chicago

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Willie D. Davis talks about why he pursued his M.B.A. degree

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Willie D. Davis recalls working in the beverage industry

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Willie D. Davis remembers his service on corporate boards

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Willie D. Davis talks about his work in the television and radio industries

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Willie D. Davis reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Willie D. Davis describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Willie D. Davis describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

1$1

DATitle
Willie D. Davis recalls a memorable football game at Grambling College
Willie D. Davis recalls winning NFL championships with the Green Bay Packers
Transcript
Okay, Mr. Davis [HistoryMaker Willie D. Davis], the year is about 1956 now. You're getting ready to graduate from Grambling [Grambling College; Grambling State University, Grambling, Louisiana], and there are offers coming around now.$$After one of the greatest games we probably ever played, we were crowned the mythical like champions of the country. We beat Florida A&M [Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee, Florida] in what they call the Hollywood Bowl [sic. Orange Blossom Classic] or something down in Florida. I never will forget this as long as I live. The paper in Florida had the next day Paul Brown, the everything coach of the Cleveland Browns, came to Florida to see--or was in Florida and he came to see the game. It said he came to see Willie Galimore and a guy by the name of Adolphus Frazier [Al Frazier], and he went away talking about Willie Davis and Ed Murray [Edward Murray], which was my teammate at Grambling. I guess I had credit for about twenty-seven tackles that night and, you know, just one of those crazy nights where everything worked for me. And probably was really my entree into the National Football League [NFL].$$So, did you flash back over your career at Grambling that night? Did everything flash over for you?$$(Laughter) I, yeah, I--well, what had been interesting is we stopped on the way down to Florida, and their running back, Adolphus Frazier, said, "Well, hey you guys." We ate dinner on campus and he said, "Well, you guys, you better touch me now because you won't see me in the game." You know, I'm always up for a challenge. And when he said--what I remember from that game probably will stick with me for as long as I--what I remember about that game. I hit Frazier and knocked him out of his shoes, up out of his shoes. And I looked at him and said, "Well, is this you?" (Laughter) It was a night. Murray ran for about three or four touchdowns and it was our great moment. It's so interesting because as I've said to many people today, I have been very fortunate to play on teams that won the championship at every level I ever played, and the other one that I was either captain or defensive captain of every team, including the Green Bay Packers.$$Since junior high school?$$Since junior high. I say it all the time, not to brag, but I say it as an example of leadership that I think I have been blessed with all my life. Through every year in football and through today in dealing with the corporate world.$Okay, so you're in Green Bay [Wisconsin] now under the great Vince Lombardi. You're there, now can you give us some highlights or, maybe first of all, anecdotes of Vince Lombardi. Anything that he did or said that really shaped you into your maturity as a player and a person?$$There are so many Lombardi quotes, starting with, "How you play this game is a reflection of how you'll live the rest of your life." Something that resonates with me almost every day now in business. And I think Coach Lombardi said this was the example that we had to somehow live through. And, I tell you, that one in particular because he indeed hit something when he said the way you play this game is the way you'll live the rest of your life in some ways. But the Green Bay Packer [Green Bay Packers] situation was just a great experience to me. Today there're eight players off of that team that's in the Hall of Fame [Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton, Ohio], and with Lombardi, nine people.$$Can you name some of those, including yourself?$$Well, it's Jimmy Taylor [Jim Taylor], Bart Starr, Forrest Gregg, Jim Ringo, Herb Adderley, Willie Wood, Ray Nitschke and Henry Jordan and--$$--and Willie Davis [HistoryMaker Willie D. Davis].$$Yes, and Willie Davis. One of the proudest moments of my life. Never will forget it. I'm in Canton, Ohio and I'm standing up there being introduced by Coach Eddie Robinson. The situation was emotional, and I look out at my mother [Nodie Allen Archie]. It was the last event, big event she saw in my life. And I'm thinking and I remember I looked out and I said, "Mom, this is a long way from Texarkana, and no one ever assured us that we were on the right road, but today (laughter) it was the right road." And at that, she blew up. And you're up there and they've already taken bets on whether you can get through it without breaking down. And I said, when I saw that, I said, "Aw, they got me."$$That's beautiful.$$But it was absolute one of the greatest moments in my life. Being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a personal achievement but what I resonate well with is the six championship games we played at Green Bay, and we were five times world champions, including the last team that win three consecutive championships. All of those things to me, I look at now and say, you know, and the thought that somehow in your mind the first thing Green Bay was gonna be was your downfall. So, you never know in life, and I said, the best thing I've ever done in my life is to try to make the best out of every situation where you have an opportunity. Because you never know.