Lee Roy Selmon,
Lee Roy Selmon.TAMPA, Fla. (AP) —
Lee Roy Selmon, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Hall of Fame defensive end who teamed with his brothers to create a dominant defensive front and helped lead Oklahoma to consecutive national championships, died Sunday — two days after being hospitalized for a stroke. He was 56.
A statement released on behalf of his wife, Claybra Selmon, said he died at a Tampa hospital surrounded by family members.
For all his accomplishments on and off the field, to us Lee Roy was the rock of our family. This has been a sudden and shocking event and we are devastated by this unexpected loss," the statement said.
Selmon was hospitalized Friday, and the Buccaneers confirmed later that he suffered a stroke.
The Glazer family, which owns the team, released a statement mourning him.
"Tampa Bay has lost another giant. 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 statement said.
Selmon and his brother, Dewey, were both chosen as All-Americans in 1975 when the Sooners won their second straight championship under Barry Switzer. They followed older brother Lucious to Oklahoma, and the three played together during the 1973 season.
News of Lee Roy Selmon's stroke had already spurred tributes to Selmon on Saturday, when members of the University of South Florida's football team wore his number on their helmet. Selmon had served as the school's athletic director from 2001 to 2004.
"We all loved him, and we're all deeply saddened," said USF President Selmon followed his Hall of Fame college career with an equally impressive run in the NFL. He was the No. 1 pick in the 1976 draft — the first ever selection by expansion Tampa Bay — and suffered through a winless inaugural season before achieving success. In 1979, he won the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award when he helped Tampa Bay make it to the NFC championship game. The Buccaneers also won the NFC Central title two years later.
Selmon was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995. Presented by brother Dewey, Lee Roy said it was his family background that was noteworthy and not his accomplishments on the field.
"People have said, 'Your parents must be proud of you,' but I'm more proud of them," he said.
Selmon played a key role in the creation of the football program at South Florida, where he was the associate athletic director starting in 1993 and served as the AD from May 2001 until he stepped down in February 2004 because of health concerns.
Lee Roy Selmon was born Oct. 20, 1954, in Eufaula, Okla., to Jessie and Lucious Selmon Sr. and raised on a farm with eight siblings. The three who'd go on to star for the Sooners could have ended up at Colorado, if not for a last-minute recruiting