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Moments from the career of Tampa Bay Buccaneers legend Lee Roy Selmon

April 9, 1976

Selmon becomes the first player selected by the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers after leading Oklahoma to a national championship and winning the 1975 Outland Trophy as the nation's outstanding lineman.

"Lee Roy is one of the greatest defensive linemen that I've ever watched," said Bucs coach John McKay, who also drafted Selmon's brother, Dewey, in the second round. "He is the type of player from which we can build a defensive line, and his leadership ability is another plus."

"Lee Roy is the greatest defensive lineman ever to play at Oklahoma," Sooners head coach Barry Switzer said. "The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have something to build on."

"We took Lee Roy because I feel confident he was the top player available in the college draft," said Ron Wolf, the Bucs' vice president of operation.

By selecting Leroy and Dewey, the Bucs keep intact the brothers' string of having played together on every team since the eighth grade.

"We always wanted to play on the same pro team, but we had sort of resigned ourselves to the fact we would finally be separated," Lee Roy said. "I don't think I had any influence on them taking Dewey, but it sure is great."

"Three years ago, I was a mediocre defensive coach," said Larry Lacewell, the Sooners' defensive coordinator. "Now I'm a defensive genius. … All I had to do to become a genius was by signing the Selmons (Lee Roy, Dewey and Lucious)."

"If he was a thoroughbred," said Marvin Warner, 48 percent owner of the Bucs at the time, "he'd win the Preakness, the Derby and the Belmont."

Selmon drew plenty of praise from other coaches.

"He's the best defensive tackle in America," Oklahoma State coach Jim Stanley said.

"I gave him the highest grade I've ever given a college prospect," Jets coach Ken Shipp said.

As for Selmon being selected by the Bucs?

"I kept an open mind to both places," he said, referring to the possibility of being drafted by Tampa Bay or Seattle. "But Mr. McKay is a nice guy. I have no negative feelings whatsoever.

"I realize it'll be a rough for a while — the losing and all that with a new team," Selmon said about being drafted by an expansion team. "But it's like life. You have to make something good happen even when things look bad, at their worst.

"You have to make the best of it."

Dec. 21, 1979

Selmon leads the Bucs to their first playoff games in team history, beating Philadelphia before losing to the L.A. Rams.

For his efforts, Selmon was the runaway winner for the Associated Press defensive player of the year award, getting 38 first-place votes. Second was Houston Oilers safety Mike Reinfeldt with 10, followed by Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert with eight.

"My getting the honor is the direct result of what we did together," Selmon said. "And I'm happy to be part of it. I think it's a tribute to the team more than it is to me. That's where it all starts. I can't say it was like a dream come true because I never dreamed it."

"He's one of the greatest defensive ends to ever play the game," veteran line coach Abe Gibron said. "The word 'superstar' is overworked, but at his position he has no peers. You seldom have to raise your voice to Lee Roy. That's because he seldom makes a mistake. He has natural speed, agility, balance and quickness."

Gibron said the only thing he'd change about Selmon would be to give him a mean streak.

"If he was mean consistently, they'd probably have to bar him," Gibron said. "Lee Roy doesn't drink or smoke. He's still a puppy dog."

April 23, 1986

Having missed the entire previous season with a herniated disc, Selmon decided to retire from the NFL, completing his 10-year run with the Bucs.

"Whenever I want to feel good, I think of Lee Roy Selmon," said John McKay, longtime coach of the Bucs. "(The Bucs) could not have made a better choice than Lee Roy Selmon to start a franchise with, both for his playing ability and character."

"I'm a little bit sad about it," Selmon said of his retirement. "Instead of dwelling on that part of it, I'm very thankful for having been a professional football player for 10 years. That's a long time when the average career in the NFL is only four years."

"After looking at the whole picture, I kind of felt my time was done," he said. "I always kept in the back of my mind that this wouldn't last forever. When the Bucs drafted me, I was just excited about getting into the NFL. I wasn't too concerned about who and where. I saw coming to the Bucs as a challenge, because it was a new team and knowing that everything you do would be part of history."

Despite the team's early struggles, losing its first 26 games, Selmon said he had no regrets.

"I wouldn't want to do it any differently. If someone were to ask me if I wanted to be drafted by a contender right off the bat, I'd say no. I'd still want to be drafted by the Buccaneers because the experience here has been that good."

"There'll never be another 63," Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse said in announcing Selmon's number would be retired.

July 30, 1995

Selmon becomes the first, and to date only, Buccaneer elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“It’s been said it would be very difficult for me to get into the Hall of Fame for a lot of reasons,” Selmon said. “That you’ve not participated in a Super Bowl, you’ve not been on a championship team, your career has not been so long, and all those things are true. But the God that I believe in and my family believes in works in impossible situations. He’s put a lot of angels in life’s path to allow these types of things to happen.”

Selmon’s brother Dewey, who presented him for enshrinement, said: “Through his play and his personality, he won that respect, not only from his teammates and his coaches, but from the fans across the NFL.”

Selmon said that he was most grateful to the family that nurtured him as the youngest of nine children.

“People have said that I know your parents are proud of you, but I want you to know that I am more proud of them,” Selmon said. “Because the very things that I’ve been taught in football and in life came from them. Those words about commitment, determination, hard work, never quitting, sharing and caring — those types of characteristics were born in the household of Lucious and Jessie Selmon.”

He told a story of a father who had no time to play catch with his son. Tired of his son’s interruptions, Selmon said, the father tore out a full-page newspaper ad that included a picture of the world and ripped it into tiny pieces, telling his son to put it back together. He was astonished when the boy soon had the pieces all in place.

“And he asked his son, 'How did you do that so quickly?’?” Selmon said. “His son explained, 'Well, Dad, on the other side of the page was a big picture of the face of a little boy. And I knew if I put that little boy together, the world would take care of itself.’ ”

May 21, 2001

Selmon is named athletic director at the University of South Florida, amid charges of racism within the women’s basketball program.

Surrounded by coaches and athletic department officials, Selmon was greeted with loud applause when his name was announced.

“In accepting this privilege, I accept it with great enthusiasm, great pride, but most of all, with great humility,” Selmon said. “This is far greater than any young child growing up in Eufaula, Okla., would have ever, ever imagined.”

“I’m looking forward to adding another chapter to South Florida athletics,” Selmon said. “The things of the past, I don’t want to spend a lot of time dealing with. No one likes bad news, but what’s important is how you deal with it and look at how you can become better.”

“Mr. Selmon is a national figure in his own right, a National Football League Hall of Famer and hero throughout the Tampa Bay region,” USF president Judy Genshaft said. “He’s a hero not just for his exquisite play for the Buccaneers, but because he exemplifies the character, determination and integrity that is the best of athletic aspirations.”

Nov. 8, 2009

Selmon becomes the first player to be named to the Buccaneer Ring of Honor, with his name and jersey number unveiled in Raymond James Stadium.

“I appreciated the game, and I wanted to play it with my best effort, but I didn’t want it to define my life,” Selmon said. “I believed there was more to it than football. It was an important part of it, but I wasn’t consumed by it. I always knew there was going to be more to life when retirement came.”

“I promised my family I wasn’t going to cry today,” a teary-eyed Selmon said after the halftime honor. “It didn’t last. I made it off the field. Seeing those players, hugging them … brings back so many fun memories, and I know that’s what this Ring is all about. It’s not about me. It’s about us as a team.”

“I think about the goodness of Jesus, and my heart just cries out, 'Thank you,’?” Selmon said. “This is more than I could ever imagine.”

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report

Moments from the career of Tampa Bay Buccaneers legend Lee Roy Selmon 09/04/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 5:05pm]
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