It is said that every stone has a statue in it and it’s the task of the sculptor to find it. In the case of the statue of Tampa Bay legend Lee Roy Selmon, who’s statue will be placed on the Selmon Greenspace, a 1.7 mile paved path that will run thru downtown Tampa, mostly under the expressway also named for the Buccaneer great, the sculpting started a long time ago in Muskogee Oklahoma.
One of nine children born to Lucius and Jessie Selmon, Lee Roy didn’t just embody all of the traits a community looks for in a hero but with a charm, intelligence and kindness that had no end, Selmon made an impact on Tampa Bay that will live on for generations.
The Selmon Standard
Playing at Oklahoma with brothers Lucious and Dewey, Lee Roy would show the speed and talent that would make him the first ever Buccaneer draft pick, selected #1 in the 1976 draft. His dominance over opposing NFL offensive lines would take a team that had started 0-26 and just three years later would be playing in the NFC Championship game. He would be a first team all pro three times(79,80,82), voted to the pro bowl six times(1979-1984, and voted to the NFL’s 1980’s all decade team.
Forced to retire due to a chronic back problem, Lee Roy would start the next chapter of his life still in selfless service to the Tampa Bay community. Taking a position as an associate athletic director at USF in 1993, then USF Athletic Director in 2001 he would become a champion for all student-athletes, no matter the sport.
Selmon would lead the Bulls football program first into conference USA! Then the Big East. Those who followed USF would know of his tireless efforts to make the sports programs at the university better in every way. Not just the kind of AD that was ra-ra, but an administrator all students would turn to for advice, kind words, and sometimes the confident words young people at that tumultuous time in their lives need. Coming from an NFL hall of fame member and community leader like Lee Roy was all the more reason he touched so many lives during his tenure at USF.
Leading fundraising efforts as President of the ‘USF Foundation Partnership for Athletics’, Selmon championed the school I’m so many ways and made an impact that will never be forgotten.
The greatest sports icon in Tampa Bay history should have that statue on the Selmon Greenspace. There should be a statue of him outside Raymond James Stadium. There should be several statues of Lee Roy Selmon throughout the Tampa Bay Area.
If a statue honoring this magnificent man is to be composed of all the great things he did, stood for, and strove everyday of his life to accomplish there is just too much content for one statue to display.
So let’s find a huge rock quarry with many high quality stones and get to sculpting. If sculptors work tirelessly round the clock maybe, just maybe we could come close to expressing how much of an impact Lee Roy Selmon had on the community.
Let the sculptor chip away at the stone to reveal the biggest smile that ever wore a Buccaneer uniform. And if done right, that finished statue will scratch the surface and show us all the rock that Lee Roy Selmon was, and continues to this day to be to Tampa Bay.