TEXARKANA, Ark. — When you mention the name Willie Davis, from Texarkana to Grambling State University to Green Bay, Wisconsin, the responses you will receive may be different but they will all have the same substance.
Davis attended Booker T. Washington High School in Texarkana, played collegiately at Grambling State University and was selected 181st in the 1956 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns.
Davis' NFL career did not begin until 1958, because of his military obligations. Davis spent two years in Cleveland before being traded to the Green Bay Packers, where he played for a decade. Davis also never missed a game during his career.
Davis' brother and Texarkana businessman Al Davis reflects on his brother's accomplishments throughout his life.
"Well, Willie is four years older than me," Al Davis said. "We both attended Grambling College at the time but Willie played for the legendary college football coach Eddie Robinson. He was named a NAIA All-American at Grambling. He started in Cleveland and finished his career in Green Bay. Paul Brown was the coach of the Browns at the time and we were a little disappointed when he was being traded.
"He had a great career with the Packers. While he was in Cleveland, he had a chance to play with Jim Brown and other Browns greats. When he was drafted in the army, he spent two years doing that and when he came back, he was traded to Green Bay."
Davis played under legendary coach Vince Lombardi and also won the first two Super Bowls (I, II).
"Well, to actually be there in person, to see those games was fantastic," Al Davis said. "He was voted All-Pro five times and he was also named to the Pro-Bowl five times. To witness that for my brother was awesome. After he retired from football, we started a distillery."
Willie Davis was the first minority owner of a full-brewery in America in 1970. Willie Davis also served on numerous boards at companies such as Sara Lee, Dow Chemical, MGM Resorts International, American Express, Schlitz Brewing, and the Green Bay Packers.
"It was amazing to watch my brother climb the ladder through corporate America," Al Davis said. "Well, it's something almost unbelievable when I sit back and think about it. People of color didn't have that kind of power and influence in that time. It's like everyone knows who you are. A lot of people in Los Angeles were proud of my brother, being that he opened a brewery there and he was the owner, plus he was a man of color.
"You felt proud that a small-town kid from Texarkana could reach the stars the way he did. He was more proud of his accomplishments in the business world, more so than he was on the football field. I believe because that shows his intelligence and also the hard work my mother instilled in us."
Willie Davis was inducted in the NFL Hall of Fame in 1981, he was named Walter Camp Man of the Year in 1986 and he was also elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988.