The 56-year-old was pivotal in the Tampa Buccaneers remarkable turnaround in 1979.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oklahoma Sooners fans are mourning the sudden death of NFL Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon.
Selmon was admitted into the hospital Friday after suffering a massive stroke. He died two days later. Selmon was 56.
"Tampa Bay has lost another giant,” said the Buccanneers owners, the Glazer family, in a released statement. “This is an incredibly somber day for Buccaneer fans, Sooner fans, and all football fans. Lee Roy's standing as the first Buc in the Hall of Fame surely distinguished him, but his stature off the field as the consummate gentleman put him in another stratosphere."
The news also hit his former teammates hard.
"Nobody expects something like this to happen, but you don't control it," said ex-Buccaneers quarterback Doug Williams. "I'm 56, just like Lee Roy. There's not a whole lot to say."
"Lee Roy's legacy is he's the most peaceful man you'd ever want to meet," ex-teammate Jimmie Giles added. "Every time you were around him he made you feel better."
Selmon, a star for the Oklahoma Sooners, was Tampa Bay’s first-ever draft pick in 1976. He then went on to be a part of some unremarkable Buccaneers teams before being instrumental in their remarkable turnaround in 1979. Tampa Bay advanced all the way to NFC championship game before losing to the Los Angeles Rams.
Selmon was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and took home first team All-Pro honors in 1979. He retired from football after the 1984 season and worked in the South Florida athletic department since. Selmon was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 1995.
"For all his accomplishments on and off the field, to us Lee Roy was the rock of our family,” his wife, Claybra, and the Selmon family said in a released statement. “This has been a sudden and shocking event and we are devastated by this unexpected loss. We deeply appreciate the prayers and support shown by family, friends, the football community and the public over the past two days.''
(Photo: CATHY KAPULKA/UPI /Landov)