The inspirational football flick The Express received decent reviews, which didn't help it much at the box office. In his three-star review of the movie, Roger Ebert acknowledged in the Chicago Sun-Times "I'm a fall guy for movies like this. Yes, I see the formula grinding away, as it actually must, because Davis' real life corresponds to it. I can't remember a film about an untalented athlete, and not many about losing teams (they always win in the end). In the final analysis, it's not how you play the game that counts, but whether you win or lose." Similarly, A.O. Scott observed in the New York Times that the movie is an honorable example of a tried-and-true formula, squarely aimed at a presumably large cross-section of the moviegoing public people who love football and hate racism." In reviewing the movie for Newsday, John Anderson gave high marks to the performances of Rob Brown as the real-life player Ernie Davis and, and Dennis Quaid, who plays his coach, Ben Schwartzwalder. "Quaid is terrific and so is Brown," writes Anderson. "And given the action and the easily exploitable subject matter, The Express is a far more human story than it needed, on someone's spreadsheet, to be."