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The Greatest - Lee Roy Selmon

SB Nation Tampa Bay Mourns the Loss of the Greatest - Lee Roy Selmon.

He was the best of us, you know. The Greatest. Not just the greatest Tampa Bay Buccaneer - which he certainly was. Not just one of the best at his craft in the National Football League - which his Hall of Fame credentials suggest. He wasn't just the man who brought football to the University of South Florida, his family name to a chain of restaurants or an philanthropist who did so much for the community.

Lee Roy Selmon was all those things and much more. One of my greatest moments in life was meeting Lee Roy - just once - and shaking his hand. He was so gracious, so welcoming. He made you feel like you were a long lost friend that he hadn't seen in years.

So many people tugging at him, telling him how great he was - yet he was so humble he gave me a smile and kind words. You see, that's the kind of man we lost yesterday. 

That's why the news of his stroke hit the Tampa Bay market worse than any Hurricane ever could. To say he was the pillar of the community would be an understatement. He was everything right about Tampa Bay.

Coming from humble beginnings in Oklahoma, Selmon adopted the Tampa Bay area as his home. He endured the 26 consecutive losses to start the Buccaneer franchise with the grace of a Saint. He didn't revel in the teams success, just keeping the same warm smile win or lose.

As other players cursed, complained or looked out for themselves Lee Roy just smiled. 

"He was such a great person and a great football player," said Rich McKay, the Atlanta Falcons president and CEO told the St. Petersburg Times. "I feel for his family and friends. At 56 years old, he had a lot of living to do and it's a shame he's not going to be with us.'

"What's so telling about Lee Roy is he played in the league about nine years. For an NFL career, that's somewhat long, but not that long. He wasn't from the area. He didn't play at Miami or Florida. He was from Oklahoma and he came to Tampa and played nine years and they named an expressway after him. That's all you need to know about Lee Roy Selmon."

McKay would know. His father John was Lee Roy's coach. Still there was so much more to this amazing man.

"He was a servant in every sense of the word,'' Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn told the Tampa Tribune. "He carried himself in a quiet dignity. He walked amongst us as a special person. The city is thankful for Lee Roy having been a part of it. I think he made us better.''

Lee Roy was the greatest of Civil Servants, doing so much for this community, going out of his way to handle any request the Tampa Bay area asked of him.

I'm pleased he had the opportunity to be honored by the team as the inaugural inductee into the Ring of Honor - after all - who else could it be but Lee Roy?

The greatest Buccaneer, a Hall of Famer, a beloved family man, businessman, civil servant, advocate for USF football, a gentle giant of a man with a heart of gold.

His absence is already felt and he will be dearly missed. Thoughts and prayers to the Selmon family and his extended family - the Tampa Bay community

God, you got a great one there in number 63 - but of course, you knew that. That's why you drafted him so early.

Photographs by, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.