Lee Roy Selmon passed away today. He was 56. Selmon was the first draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976 and was a beast on defense and a joy to watch. In high school, I played along the defensive line and so wanted to emulate Lee Roy Selmon (I just wasn’t as talented…).
When I entered the military in 1982, I went to watch the Cowboys vs. Buccaneers wild car playoff game in early 1983 in our common room in the dorm and there must have been 100 guys there to watch the game with a majority pulling for the Buccaneers. Many of them rooting for the Buccaneers because of Doug Williams and Lee Roy Selmon (The Bucs ended up losing 30-17).
But what mattered most was what Lee Roy Selmon did after his playing days were over.
Pat Yasinskas at the NFL Nation blog has an excellent post remembering Lee Roy Selmon:
I remember precisely where I was the moment Lee Roy Selmon was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I was standing outside a hotel ballroom in Miami in 1995. It was the day before the Super Bowl. A few minutes after the privileged voters inside the room had voted Selmon in, the door swung open. Out walked Tom McEwen, the legendary former sports editor of The Tampa Tribune.
“He’s in,” McEwen said.
For the rest of that afternoon, evening, the media brunch and all during the Super Bowl, I kept seeing writers, league officials, former players and even Ferdie “The Fight Doctor” Pacheco coming up to McEwen and offering congratulations.
A humble, exceedingly gracious man, Selmon never was one of those people who would go around seeking attention or adoration. He simply earned it by his play on the field and the way he carried himself off it – during and long after his career ended in 1984.
McEwen, a powerful man, might have twisted some arms to get the votes. But Selmon was the one who did the grunt work. He was the one who beat double teams and chased down quarterbacks every Sunday. He was the one who endured the 0-26 run the Bucs went on as a 1976 expansion team.
He was the one that made the Bucs seem like miracle workers (long before the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars entered the league under a different set of rules in 1995) when they reached the NFC Championship Game in the 1979 season.
Yeah, the 1979 team had some guys like Doug Williams and Jimmie Giles who made some big plays on offense. But John McKay’s first winning team won with defense and Selmon was the center of that.
Selmon still was the center of the team in subsequent years when Williams left and things went bad. He left the game after the 1984 season because of a bad back, but he remained the icon of all icons in Tampa Bay.
The Bucs were bad for the next decade, but fans and the team could always point to Selmon as a point of pride. He stuck around town and stayed active in the community. He eventually joined the staff at the University of South Florida and helped the college start its football program.
I encourage you to read the rest of the post at this link.