Players, coaches remember No. 93, Lee Roy Selmon
BY FRED GOODALL Associated Press
Friday, September 09, 2011
9/09/11 at 6:37 AM
TAMPA, Fla. - Warren Sapp will never forget the day he met Lee Roy Selmon.
"Training camp my rookie year," the seven-time Pro Bowl selection said. Sapp fondly recalls the summer of 1995 when he finally came face to face with Selmon - the iconic figure Sapp had followed since he was a youngster growing up just outside of Orlando and rooting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
"I looked around, there he was, kind of smiling like he'd always do," Sapp said. "He never had a whole lot to say, but he didn't have to. That wasn't his style. You knew what he meant to the franchise, to the city. Just the fact he showed up meant everything to a young guy like me."
Soft-spoken, humble. In Sapp's words: "The ultimate gentle giant."
That's how friends, colleagues, former teammates and coaches and current Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy also remember Selmon, whose impact off the field overshadowed a Hall of Fame football career.
The 56-year-old native of Eufala, Okla., died last Sunday, two days after suffering a stroke. Funeral services are Friday in Tampa and Saturday in Oklahoma City, near where Selmon and older brothers Lucious and Dewey starred at the University of Oklahoma under former Sooners coach Barry Switzer.
"As a defensive player, without a doubt he was the best I ever had," Switzer said.
"It's difficult to compare offensive players and defensive players. But Lee Roy was the greatest defensive player I ever coached and most of the guys who coached with me thought the same thing. We never had anyone else who was as talented as he was," he said.
But as good as Selmon, the first-ever draft pick of the expansion Bucs in 1976, was on the field, nearly everyone who knew him insists he was even better away from the game.
A gracious but extremely private person, Selmon was generous with his time - whether it be in support of civic or charitable endeavors or as a community ambassador or athletic director at the University of South Florida, where he helped launch one of the nation's fastest growing college football programs in the mid-1990s.
He stepped away from his job as the Bulls' AD in 2004 to address what the school said was a "private health matter" that Selmon did not talk about publicly.
"The things he did off the field, the way he gave back to the community, that's really what I learned from Mr. Selmon," said McCoy, a second-year pro who grew up in Oklahoma City and wore Selmon's No. 93 in college at Oklahoma. "I've modeled my game after other players, but how I use the platform this game gives me, that I got from him."
"He said, 'It's not about what you do on the field, but what you do off the field. How you use your talents to give back," said McCoy.
Original Print Headline: Players, coaches recall No. 93
Former OU coach Barry Switzer called Lee Roy Selmon (above) "the best I ever had" as a defensive player. Associated Press file
Gerald McCoy: Former OU and current Tampa Bay defensive tackle tries to model his game after Selmon.