Born: September 15, 1945
Town: Long Branch
Robert Ellersie Davis Jr. was born September 15, 1945 in Long Branch and grew up in Neptune. Tall and rangy with quick feet and a strong arm, Bob excelled in basketball and football, playing quarterback for Neptune High. He accepted a scholarship from the University of Virginia and won the starting job as a sophomore in 1964.
Bob’s first college game was one for the books—literally. He torched Wake Forest for 334 passing and rushing yards to set an ACC record. Bob’s running ability created difficult match-ups for the Cavaliers’ opponents. As a junior, he moved to halfback for several games when the Virginia backfield was depleted by injuries. As a senior in 1966, he nearly led Virginia to a road upset over #5 Georgia. Bulldog coach Bobby Dodd said he was the best back they faced since World War II. Bob graduated with nine ACC records, including 39 career touchdowns. Bob’s pro prospects were somewhat diminished by a knee injury suffered on his final play as a collegian. He would undergo four surgeries over the next 8 years.
Bob was taken with the 30th pick in the 1967 AFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. The only QB drafted higher to sign with an AFL club was Bob Griese of the Dolphins. He played backup to Pete Beathard as the Oilers won the Eastern Division. A loss to the Raiders in the title game kept Houston from playing in Super Bowl II. He continued in that role for the next two seasons.
Bob joined the New York Jets in 1970 as Joe Namath’s backup. He only got into one game, but in 1971 Namath and AL Woodall were injured and coach Weeb Ewbank gave Bob the ball. He started 7 games and led the Jets to two wins over the Bills and one over the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs. He finished the year with 10 TD passes and 8 interceptions. Namath returned to the field in 1972 and hobbled though a 7–7 season. Bob saw limited action and felt he should have been given a chance to guide the team. The Jets didn’t agree and released him.
Bob played one more NFL season, as a backup to Archie Manning in New Orleans. After the season he was traded to Buffalo, but instead signed with the Washington Ambassadors of the WFL. The team relocated to Orlando and played the 1974 season as the Florida Blazers. Other NFL veterans on the team, which was coached by Jack Pardee, included ex-Jet Larry Grantham, Browns star Gary Collins and Lions running back Mel Farr. Bob led his club to 14 wins and finished third in the league in passing yards. He passed the Blazers to a pair of playoff victories and a berth in the World Bowl against the Birmingham Americans. After falling behind 22–0, he engineered a thrilling comeback that fell one point short, 22–21. Florida actually scored the winning touchdown when Tommy Reamon crashed over the goal line, but officials claimed he did not break the plane. Replays later showed he had indeed scored.
After the season, Pardee was hired to coach the Chicago Bears and Bob thought he might go with him. That didn’t pan out, so he accepted an offer from the WFL Philadelphia Bell. He was injured early in the year and the league folded 12 weeks into the season. Bob decided to retire. He got into the financial business and became a commercial banker in Monmouth County.