Lee Roy Selmon was the first Tampa Bay Buccaneer in many ways – the franchise's first college draft pick, it's first star player, its first Hall of Famer, it's first inductee into the team's Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium. And now he is the first Buccaneer to have a day named in his honor across the entire state of Florida.
At a press conference held at the Buccaneers headquarters in Tampa on Friday, Congressman James Grant of the Florida House of Representatives presented a resolution to Selmon's widow, Claybra, naming October 20 "Lee Roy Selmon Day" throughout the state. Officials from Hillsborough County and the City of Tampa also presented similar resolutions to Claybra and her three children, Brandy, Lee Roy Jr. and Christopher.
Grant, a close friend of the Selmon family, sponsored the resolution in the House and said he encountered virtually no resistance to its adoption. The naming of a day in his honor – October 20 was Selmon's birthday – roughly a year after his death is a testament to Selmon's lasting impact, both on the gridiron and in the community.
"There are a lot of players who have sat either in this room or the old trailers that have come after Lee Roy Selmon," said Grant. "There are a lot of fantastic football players who have worn the uniform after Lee Roy Selmon. But Lee Roy's left a legacy here, and he's set a standard for all of us, whether we ever played football or have any sort of involvement in this community. More important than anything we do is to leave a place better than we found it, to give more than we ever take from it. I hope that as we leave today we do remember that we have an assignment, and that we never forget the impact of Lee Roy and his entire family on our community."
A six-time Pro Bowler and the 1979 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Selmon has long been considered the greatest player in Buccaneers franchise history. It was his grace, dignity and commitment to helping others in the community, during and after his playing career, that made him such an enduring figure in the state of Florida. The Lee Roy Selmon Expressway in Tampa already bears his name, as does the athletic center at the University of South Florida, where he was the athletic director from 2001-04; a branch of the Fifth Third bank in Tampa; and a successful chain of restaurants in the Bay area.
Fittingly, representatives from USF, Lee Roy Selmon's Restaurants and Fifth Third Bank were also on hand at Friday's press conference to discuss the newly created "Mentoring U, Selmon Style," a specialized mentorship program designed to help USF student-athletes prepare for professional life following graduation. A string of speakers echoed Grant's thoughts on the former Buccaneer great, illustrating how widely Selmon's life impacted the Bay area and the state of Florida.
"It's hard to believe that it's been more than a year since our fantastic Lee Roy has been gone," said Dr. Judy Genshaft, president of USF. "Tomorrow marks a birthday for him and what better way to celebrate his extraordinary life than by celebrating Lee Roy Selmon Day together."
All three proclamations were handed to Claybra and the Selmon children during the press conference, and Claybra then spoke about the honor as well as the difficulty of losing a man who was a pillar not only in the community but in her tight-knit family.
"This is very bittersweet, but mostly sweet," she said. "I just miss Lee Roy being here to witness all of this.
"It's wonderful to see the state and the city saluting Lee Roy for the things that he has done in this community and the way that he gave himself away to the city and the state of Florida. Lee Roy was devoted to this community in a very public way, and it's nice to see that love returned to him. He was so deserving."