The thoughts and prayers of the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers family were with Lee Roy Selmon on Saturday, after the Hall of Fame defensive end and civic pillar was hospitalized on Friday after suffering a stroke.
Widely considered the greatest player in franchise history, Selmon is also a beloved figure in the Bay area community due to his charitable nature and generous character. The report of Selmon's hospitalization swept the community on Friday and left a pallor over One Buccaneer Place, the Buccaneers' headquarters.
News of Selmon's possible improvement on Saturday, delivered by his brother and former Buccaneer Dewey Selmon, was greeted with hope by members of the Glazer family, who have found Lee Roy to be the perfect team ambassador. The Glazer family released the following statement:
"From the very start, Lee Roy Selmon has been there for his team and his community. Now, he and the entire Selmon family should know that our family and the entire Buccaneer organization is thinking of and praying for him."
Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris also expressed hope that Selmon would recover quickly after leading his team through a short practice on Saturday morning.
"What he's meant to us here has been unbelievable," said Morris. "Whether we had a 3-13 season or a 10-6 season, it didn't matter. Lee Roy Selmon was a constant here at Buccaneers camp and hopefully he'll be back here shortly. We want to get him back and be a part of this because what he means to our community and NFL history, period, is phenomenal."
Morris frequently asked Selmon to visit team headquarters and speak with his younger players, hoping his influence would help create another generation of Buccaneers who were as devoted to the community off the field as they were to the game of football. The team was particularly eager to connect Selmon with first-round pick Gerald McCoy in 2010, as McCoy shared a similar background as a product of the University of Oklahoma.
"With me being who I am and playing the same position, coming from Oklahoma, I couldn't help but hear about him," said McCoy. "He's always been an inspiration to me because of the type of person he's been, not what he did on the field, and I try to model myself after him. He's been one of my mentors since I got drafted to Tampa, and I couldn't have been put in a better situation than to have a mentor like him around me. He's always been great to me, and I wish him a speedy recovery."
Selmon remains the only player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played his NFL career entirely or primarily as a Buccaneer. He was also the inaugural inductee into the Buccaneers' prestigious new Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium. A six-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1979 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Selmon was a perennial contender for the NFL Man of the Year and Byron "Whizzer" White awards, both of which recognize a player's humanitarian service.