It was one year ago today that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers suffered their greatest loss ever.
It was one year ago today that the entire Tampa Bay community wept and looked for consolation for the loss of one of our truly great citizens.
It was one year ago today that Lee Roy Selmon left us. He suffered a massive stroke two days before, lingered long enough for his family to gather then left, peacefully, quietly.
The loss of Selmon was felt from Tampa to Tulsa, from Ocala to Oklahoma City, from Sarasota to Stillwater, all the way to the playing fields in Norman, where he became a Sooners legend.
I cried then and I cried this morning in the moments before dawn. Lee Roy was my friend for 35 years, and I learned over those decades that this man, this Hall of Fame football player, was so much more than a fabulous athlete.
Lee Roy Selmon turned out to be the rock of our community, the pride of Tampa, the standard, the example for all of us to follow. Those of us who knew him well were better off because of Lee Roy.
Today, I thought I would share with you some of the things Selmon told me over the years, some things you can enjoy, write them down, keep them and when you want to feel better, read them.
Here are some of Lee Roy's memorable words:
"It was all about our team."
That's something these new-age Bucs need to know.
"Be honest, be real and not think too highly of yourself."
Lee Roy Selmon's greatness was magnified by his humility.
"Humility is important. Tony Dungy has it. Derrick Brooks has it."
Words to live by.
"Being on any professional roster is a privilege. You can't discount that."
Words for every NFL player to live by.
"I'm excited to be part of it."
Lee Roy talking about his induction into the Ring of Honor.
"This year, these Bucs, at the end of the day, I'm so pulling for them."
He said that every year before the season started.
"We learned about ourselves. We learned about resolve. We learned how to get over the hump."
Lee Roy talking about that first-ever 1976 season when he and his teammates went 0-16.
"Open a door, reach out, touch a life...."
Words Selmon lived by in his post-football life in Tampa.
And finally, this:
"Our kindness and goodness are the best things we can offer in life."
And that was the essence of Lee Roy Selmon. He was all about kindness and goodness. You could feel it, sense it and when he smiled at you and shook your hand, you felt it.
Lee Roy is gone, he's enjoying his heavenly reward. But his legacy is his kindness and goodness.
His legacy is the solid football program at the University of South Florida.
His legacy is the honesty and humanity and service that he brought to our community.
Lee Roy is gone but never forgotten. Reminders of him are everywhere.
He left mighty footsteps, and his hands and heart touched countless people.
He was a Hall of Fame football player, the greatest Buccaneer and the greatest joy for Tampa.
He is greatly missed.
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