Football has been Lucious Selmon's life. He was a consensus All-American at Oklahoma in 1973, when he played alongside brothers Dewey and Lee Roy on the Sooner defensive line. He returned to OU after a short stint in the World Football League, becoming an assistant and staying for 13 years. He coached in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars for eight years, then returned to the college ranks and coached at Michigan State for a year.
Earlier this week, Selmon was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.
To think, he had to be convinced to give football at try at Eufaula High School.
There's a big family, a total of nine. I have three older brothers that probably could've played football if the opportunity would've been there.
My high school coach, Paul Bell, one of the greatest men you ever want to meet, probably one of the toughest men you ever want to meet. Coach Bell was the first coach to ever coach any Selmon, and that was me.
Coach Bell happened to see me running around on the schoolyard, and I was much bigger than the rest of the kids. He just came up and asked me, “Hey, have you ever thought about playing football?” And I told him, “No.”
I had never played the game before. I didn't even know how to put football pads on.
He convinced me to go and see if Dad and Mom would allow me to play. That was my excuse for not playing — “Mom and Dad won't let me do it.”
So I went and asked Mom and Dad if I could play football. I knew it would probably create a hardship on them because I would have to practice after school, I would miss the school bus, and one of them would have to come and get me. Plus, I saw a great opportunity there that would make me come home late, and I would have to do all those chores.
They endorsed the opportunity and told me to do my best at it.
Coach Bell was so relentless in telling me that I could be a good football player. I had my ambitions. I wanted to be a diesel mechanic. I wanted to go to Okmulgee Tech and be a diesel mechanic. And Coach Bell came and told me that he thought I could be good enough in football to where I could probably get a scholarship and play college football.
School wasn't that appealing to me at that time. More school? But as the years went on, it became very appealing.
We had someone — our mother — behind us through junior high, high school. It didn't change when we got to college. The coaches, counselors, if we slipped any in class, they'd tell us, “We'll call your mother.” That changed everything, and we were grown men.
We were destined. My older brothers had already finished high school, did not attend college, but they were successful. They were making a good living. They were always contributing.
We came along under the same roof and same guidelines that they did, but football was a part of our lives, and this is what athletics and sports did for us.
Normally, the older brother would have a great deal of influence on the younger brother, and I feel like I did. Me trying football was something that spurred them to want to try, but to be at the University of Oklahoma when Dewey and Lee Roy decided to come was truly, truly humbling.
I thought I would have to be their protector, but I realized real soon that those guys could take care of themselves. Somebody once asked me what I would do if somebody was beating up my younger brothers. I said, “I'd run.” If they can't beat 'em, I sure couldn't.
Back then in the 70s, the early 70s, there were a lot of changes going on in the United States. Freedom movements. Integration was setting in where opportunities for black athletes were becoming wide open.
That's something that Dad and Mom always taught me — “You're not entitled to anything. The thing you look for is opportunity, and when you get the opportunity, you make the best of it.”