TAMPA – Friday morning in downtown Tampa, civic leaders unveiled a hero-sized statue of Bucs and community great Lee Roy Selmon in the shadow on the expressway named for him.
That it took all these years to build a statue to this Tampa Bay touchstone, who has been gone eight years, is surprising. That there isn’t a statue of Selmon outside Raymond James Stadium is mind boggling. Greatness, humility, benevolence, faith, honesty. That is Lee Roy Selmon, monument man.
We are lucky to have had even one of him.
At the same time Friday, across town, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston held a football camp at Bucs headquarters. He was all in with the kids, a kid himself, really, as he played keep away with the children and helped Special Olympians make touchdowns. During a break, Winston bounced his 11-month-old son, Malachi, on his knee.
If only it was always like this.
“This is what it’s all about,” Winston said. “These kids deserve the same output that I give out there for my team. I’ve got to give them all the energy I can. It takes me to being a little kid again. Everybody has that inner child in them.”
He is no monument man, and maybe he never will be. There is probably too much past in Winston’s past. He could hold kids camps every day for a year. Some people will always be behind him. Just as many will never accept him.
Winston is undeterred.
“To say that there’s no one on this team who can be a monument man is very premature on your part,” he said. “We’re taking strides every single day to be great in this community.”
But, really, all there is right now is his football, and Winston’s game is an on-off deal as he approaches his fifth season, in which he will make $20.9 million, or, as it is known in the land of NFL quarterbacks, the going rate.
Four years of Winston and we still don’t know. He shows just enough to make you want to keep him, then throws a bonehead interception. Now comes new Bucs head coach Bruce Arians, the quarterback whisperer, the last resort.
Or is it? This could go on and on for years. Winston might eventually have a franchise tag slapped on him. On and on. Get used to this, Bucs fans.
But he is a million miles from being a monument man. Most people are when compared to Lee Roy Selmon. Winston is what the Bucs have until they have a better option.
He has 88 career touchdown passes and 58 interceptions. He is 21-33 as a Buc starter. He needs wins. True, quarterback won-loss records can be misleading. I mean, the Bucs offense has not been the problem. It’s the bumbling, stumbling defense. Consider that when Arians was coaching Arizona for five years, the Cardinals went 31-1 when they scored 25 points or more. Winston is just 12-10 when the Bucs score 25 or more.
Winston is a losing quarterback. Maybe that’s not fair, Tough racket, NFL quarterback. But that’s what the money is for. I’m not sure Winston will ever hit that big payday here, that historically elusive occurrence, a QB getting a second contract with the Bucs.
But think about it. Think of all the Bucs quarterbacks who have left here to haunt their old team. Of those QBs, only Steve Young went to the Hall of Fame. Doug Williams and Trent Dilfer will never be confused with all-time greats, but they found their game and a team that got behind them and they won it all. What if the Bucs kept Winston? What if he had his Doug and Dily moments here, not somewhere else?
Jameis Winston took a break from his camp Friday to talk about Lee Roy Selmon.
“His family is just engraved in this community,” he said. “So, it means a lot to have Lee Roy Selmon Expressway and to have a statue downtown. It means a lot to me, because he paved the way for people like me to have a lasting impact. Don’t put any limitations on the Buccaneers.
“If I play football, today or tomorrow, people are going to remember me for the great deeds that I have done. A community comes together through the great initiatives done in this community. When (you are) in on the football field, that’s a plus. But at the end of the day, being in the community is from, it’s from your heart. Lee Roy Selmon is known for his heart.”
Actually, football isn’t a plus. It’s what Winston has. People will think what they think of him, even on his days when his heart is openly displayed. People have chosen sides. All he can do is go out and perform, hold the bonehead. Just go win some football games. That would be monumental enough at this point.
Contact Martin Fennelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (613) 721-8029. Follow @mjfennelly