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Lee Roy Selmon’s example was one that would serve today’s youth well

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Modified: September 5, 2011 at 8:05 am •  Published: September 5, 2011
Today’s young people, particularly its athletes, could learn a thing or two about comportment from Lee Roy Selmon, the former Oklahoma great and pro football hall of famer who died Sunday at age 56 after suffering a stroke.

Humble. Kind. Hard-working. Classy. Those are among the adjectives used in describing a player his coach, Barry Switzer, considers the greatest Sooner in history.

Selmon was a dominating force at OU while becoming a two-time All-American and winning the Lombardi and Outland awards as the nation’s premier lineman. That success was no accident — he was gifted, certainly, but he also worked at it. As Switzer once put it: “He never had a bad practice.”

Selmon never said much, either. Instead, he simply went about his business, first with the Sooners and then during his Pro Football Hall of Fame career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How quaint that seems now, in an age where players make big hits and then celebrate as if no one has ever done that before.

Selmon came by his humility honestly, as the youngest of nine children raised on a farm outside Eufaula by Jessie and Lucious Selmon Sr. His parents instilled a work ethic that carried Selmon to greatness on the field and to success in the private sector afterward. At every step along the way, people came away most impressed with the person.

Like his siblings, Selmon treated people decently. There was nothing contrived about him, which helps explain why his friends and colleagues have been so moved by his passing.

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