Buccaneer great Lee Roy Selmon, a Hall of Famer, visits the new draft-preparation room named in his honor
Bruce Allen arrived in Tampa at about the same time that Lee Roy Selmon was departing his post as athletic director at the University of South Florida. One of the most beloved citizens in the Bay area community, Selmon also happened to be the only Hall of Famer in the 29-year history of Allen's new employer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bucs' new general manager, long a student of the game, was familiar with Selmon's place in its history, and aware of the respect Selmon was afforded in Tampa. Eager to meet the former Buc star, Allen called to suggest a get-together. After asking for a few weeks to attend to personal business, Selmon suggested lunch. Allen's response?
"I told him I knew the perfect place," said Allen, smiling.
That he did. One, in fact, that had Selmon's name on the door, and we're not referring to Lee Roy Selmon's, the fine barbecue restaurant located about a mile from Buc headquarters.
On Tuesday, the Buccaneers held their first real organized workout of the 2004 offseason, an 'organized team activity' day that drew virtually the entire roster on a voluntary basis. It was the perfect day for that long-awaited lunch, an afternoon on which the team's offices were flush with the optimism of a new season.
On Allen's invite, Selmon arrived at One Buccaneer Place in time to watch the team's 90-minute workout. At the end of the field session, Selmon accompanied Allen into the team's pro personnel department, took a right just past the G.M.'s office and got his first look at what would be the day's lunch room.
The newly-christened Lee Roy Selmon Room.
Following the shakeup in the team's football management this winter, the Bucs made some structural changes inside their offices, as well. A space that used to house the team's director of player personnel has been redesigned into a scouts' meeting room, complete with multiple computer stations, a conference table and endless draft boards on the walls. Whereas the team's area scouts used to find makeshift locations to work when they were in town, there is now a central meeting area that will allow for more streamlined communication between personnel men.
And on the door to this room is a sign bearing the name of the greatest Buccaneer ever. Selmon, who joined Allen, former teammates Doug Williams and Scot Brantley and several others for lunch at the room's conference table, was sincerely flattered by the team's gesture, and typically self-effacing.
"It's humbling, because that's something that's done out of the goodness of one's heart," said the team's all-time sacks leader. "For Coach (Jon) Gruden and Bruce Allen and the organization to do something like that is really special. It's something that I don't take for granted, and I thank God above for all the kindness and love that's been shown.
"I've always felt very welcome to come around here by the Glazer family, to be around as much as I'd like to be or could be. It's those types of things that make this community great, and that's why I appreciate them so much. It's certainly not mandatory that that door is open so widely and so welcoming. I appreciate that very much."
Many forgettable years of Buc football fell between Selmon's retirement in 1985 and the franchise's recent resurgence, but Selmon's spirit really never left the place. It is a fitting tribute to put his name in a prominent place at One Buc Place, but it is particularly fitting to affix it to this room.
It was, after all, the selection of Selmon first overall in the 1976 draft that set the standard for all organizational decisions to come. Selmon proved worthy of that first pick in every way imaginable and proved that draft-day decisions could impact a team, positively, for years to come. Many of those decisions will now be made in the Lee Roy Selmon room.
"Having his name on that door reminds us of what we're shooting for in the draft," said Allen. "It's a lofty goal. It's not easy to find a man of his caliber with his talent and his dedication to the game, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try."
Allen, who sees the organization's first star as the perfect role model for many of the team's younger players, made it clear to Selmon that he was welcome at One Buccaneer Place at any time. As much as that would mean to the Buccaneers, it would also give Selmon a chance to reconnect more fully with his origins in Tampa.
"It was because of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that my brother Dewey and I ended up here in Tampa, and it's just been a wonderful experience," said Selmon. "I've worked with a lot of wonderful people and continued nurturing great relationships in the whole Tampa Bay area. There are lots of fond memories every time I'm by here. It's all positive and all good."