The first man drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers now has a statue in Tampa. It’s not located at the stadium where the team plays but in downtown Tampa.
Lee Roy Selmon, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who arrived from his native Oklahoma via the first round of the 1976 draft, has been immortalized in bronze for his contributions to the city, contributions that extend beyond his efforts on the football field.
Selmon, who as the USF athletic director helped build a solid football program, became a cornerstone of his adopted hometown. He’s depicted not in a football uniform, but the statue has Selmons wearing his retired No. 63 over a collared shirt.
“The one thing I didn’t want is I didn’t want [the statue] to be about football,” said Robert Frey, director of planning and innovation for the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority, which funded the eight-foot tribute to Selmon, via the Tampa Tribune. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m as big a football fan as anybody, but what the gentleman represented and the things he did outside of football to help the community and help people, in my opinion, that far and away outvalued anything he did on the gridiron. . . . We wanted it to reflect what he really meant to the community and to developing young people to become better people.”
So could a similar honor happen for Selmon outside Raymond James Stadium, where the Bucs and Bulls play?
“We’ve talked about it,” Buccaneers COO Brian Ford said. “There could be some things in the works. We’re not there yet. But absolutely. He’s a part of our organization, and he’s the ultimate role model, not only in the locker room but how he got involved in the community when he was a player. . . . I talk about his legacy to rookies today. Everybody knows who Lee Roy Selmon is. When you become a Buccaneer, you hear the story about Lee Roy Selmon whether you plan it or not. There’s not many players like that. It’s ingrained from Day One.”
Selmon died in 2011 at the age of 56 after suffering a stroke. He spent his entire playing career with the Buccaneers, and he entered the Hall of Fame in 1995. The Buccaneers added him to the franchise’s Ring of Honor in 2009.