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Tampa Bay Buccaneers Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon dies at 56

Doug Farrar
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Two days after he was hospitalized following a massive stroke, Lee Roy Selmon, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end and University of South Florida official, passed away in Tampa at the age of 56. He was admitted to Tampa's St. Joseph Hospital on Friday.

Selmon's wife Claybra released the following statement after his passing: "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,"

Following a standout career at the University of Oklahoma, Selmon became the Buccaneers' first draft pick in the franchise's history in 1976. The team lost its first 26 games, but by 1979, head coach John McKay had turned things around to the point that the Buccaneers made it all the way to the NFC Championship game, where they lost to the Los Angeles Rams. Selmon made six Pro Bowls and picked up a First-Team All-Pro selection in 1979. He was also named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 1979. He also played with his brother Dewey from 1976 through 1980.

Then as now, the Bucs were led by defense. And back then, Lee Roy Selmon was their leader. He played until 1984, which means that he only has official sack totals for three seasons (the NFL started officially tabulating sacks in 1982), but he amassed 23 all the same. The 6-foot-3, 256-pound Selmon was a terror to opposing quarterbacks, and he was also an excellent run-stopper. He was elected to the Pro Football Hal lof Fame in 1995.

The Glazer family, current owners of the team, had this to say: "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."

After his playing career ended, Selmon turned his attention to the University of South Florida, where he served as the football team's athletic director.

"Nobody expects something like this to happen, but you don't control it," said former teammate 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."

The Tampa Tribune reports that there will be a memorial service in Tampa before Selmon's body is flown back to Oklahoma.

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