Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Lee Roy Selmon: Coach McKay's Lessons

The Buccaneer Hall-of-Famer relates his memories of the late Tampa Bay Head Coach

The first player selected in the 1976 NFL Draft, in the Buccaneers' inaugural season, Lee Roy Selmon is currently on the only Tampa Bay Player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. John McKay was Selmon's head coach during his entire NFL career, during which he made six Pro Bowl appearances.

Selmon remembers McKay as a confident, knowledgeable and humorous man. Selmon's thoughts:

"As a rookie coming into the National Football League with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1976, I knew Coach McKay had the reputation of being an outstanding coach. This was the first time I had the chance to get the opportunity to know and play for him. I had heard about him at University of Southern California, but to work with him and immediately see the knowledge and skills he had in the game of football was very impressive. And the way Coach went about building the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was very impressive as well.

"Over a short period of time, I got to know him as an individual, as a person and as a friend. I really admired that type of person Coach McKay was. I enjoyed my entire professional career. He was the only professional coach that I played for, and I enjoyed all nine years that I had the pleasure of playing for him.

"Coach had a lot of confidence in his ability and the system that he believed in. He endured some criticism, especially in the early years. I really respected him and admired him during those times, because he stuck to what he believed in. Over the course of time, not only did it work for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but I also saw several other teams adopting some of the philosophies that he had initiated early on in the National Football League that many critics said would not work. I always admired that aspect of him.

"I think the way the he built the Tampa Bay Buccaneers speaks for itself. We made the playoffs on three different occasions under his direction. And to accomplish that with an expansion club and not have the opportunity for player movement, like we do today with free agency, you have to take your hat off to him. He did an outstanding job his entire NFL coaching career.

"He always would have funny things to say, especially when a reporter would ask him a question. He would always have a quick comeback to their question and catch them off guard. I remember on one occasion Ricky Bell, who was our feature running back, had a big day. He carried the ball on quite a few occasions during the game. And following the game, a reporter at the press conference asked Coach about Ricky's performance.

"'Coach, Ricky carried the ball an awful lot today?' And Coach quickly responded, 'Well, Ricky's a big man and the ball only weighs a few ounces, so it wasn't really a problem for him to carry it as often as he did.' I always enjoyed his sense of humor and his quick wit. I also had the opportunity to sit down with him and listen to the many experiences he had at USC and in the professional ranks as well. He had an awful lot of experiences to share, and at times we would sit and laugh together about all these wonderful experiences.

"Coach McKay certainly demonstrated a great deal of management skills. He worked extremely well with his coaching staff and was very organized at Tampa Bay. He allowed his coaches to teach and coach. That played an integral part in the success we had in Tampa Bay. He allowed his coaches to be instructors on the field, and he was responsible in observing everything that went on. And so I have applied that philosophy in the business world creating a management team, where you work closely with your staff and allow them to make decisions on behalf of your organization to function at its best. I think he was a great manager."

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