The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hold a press conference late Wednesday morning to announce the latest inductee into its Ring of Honor.
Hopefully, it will be Ricky Bell.
It should be Ricky Bell. More emphatically, it MUST be Ricky Bell.
This one is personal.
When we think about outstanding sports figures, we think of the elite, Hall of Fame figure—Muhammad Ali, Bear Bryant, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. When I look back over the last 33 years, I'm thinking about Ricky Bell, a relatively unknown guy by the standards of those I just mentioned.
When I think about the football players I have met along my life's journey, the late Lee Roy Selmon is in a class of his own. Ricky Bell was not far behind.
Take a look at this article I wrote about Bell on Nov. 5, 2009. It speaks great volumes about Bell, who was stricken by a disease called dermatomyositis. It took his life, and he left us at age 29. It was a sad day for me and for anyone who had the privilege to meet him.
Things were not easy for Bell in Tampa. He ran the gauntlet of emotions. He played on the awful teams of 1977 and 1978 and then basked in the glory of the NFC Central championship team of 1979. He was booed early in his Buccaneer career and then adored later.
Two days after writing the article above, I received an email from my friend Lee Roy Selmon. It read, in part:
Ricky sure was a wonderful person and player. Those of us who had the opportunity to know him are better for it. He is an Unsung Hero and deserving of the Ring of Honor.
I will let that email from Selmon speak for all of us. I saved every email that Selmon sent me, and when he passed, I was glad that I did. It's my way of staying connected to my friend.
Here's the way I see it—if Lee Roy Selmon, our greatest Buccaneer ever, felt that Bell is deserving of the Ring of Honor, then he should be the choice on Wednesday.