The Tampa Bay Buccaneers said today that Lee Roy Selmon, perhaps the greatest player in franchise history, has died.
“Tampa Bay has lost another giant,” the team said in a 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. Put simply, he was first class. He was the real deal. We are so blessed to have known this fine man and to have called him one of our own, yet so sad to have lost him so soon. Our hearts go out to the Selmon family at this time of their loss.”
The 56-year-old Selmon suffered a stroke on Friday. There were conflicting reports about his condition, with his restaurant chain prematurely issuing a statement saying he had died on Friday, then his brother Dewey saying over the weekend that Lee Roy was improving. On Sunday afternoon, the Bucs confirmed that Selmon had died.
After an All-American career at Oklahoma, Selmon was the first overall pick of the 1976 NFL draft, and the first pick in Buccaneers franchise history. He led the team from NFL bottom-dwellers to NFC Central champions, and was chosen as a defensive end on six NFC Pro Bowl rosters.