Proclaimed by many as the greatest player in the storied history of Oklahoma football, Hall of Fame defensive lineman Lee Roy Selmon suffered a major stroke Friday at his home in Tampa, Fla.
According to Tampa’s 10News, the 56-year-old Selmon was found unconscious and not breathing when first responders arrived and transported him to a hospital.
University of South Florida spokesperson Michael Hoad said, “USF is staying in close touch with the Selmon family and (they) said that Selmon is in serious condition at the hospital (Friday night).”
Selmon served as USF’s athletic director from 2001 to 2004 and assistant athletic director from 1993 to 2001. He currently ispresident of theUSF Foundation Partnership for Athletics, a fundraising organization at the school.
KFOR-TV reported Selmon’s brother, Lucious, told a former teammate he did not think his brother was going to survive and said they were told Lee Roy had a 20 percent chance of survival with brain damage.
Lee Roy Selmon’s niece, Shannon, reportedly sent an email to family members asking for thoughts and prayers. She wrote Selmon has a blood clot in his heart.
Officials from the Lee Roy Selmon’s Restaurants chain issued a statement early Friday evening that stated Selmon had died. The statement expressed “profound sorrow” at Selmon’s passing, but the group later said the statement was “prematurely released.”
Selmon family members in Oklahoma were en route to Florida to be by Lee Roy’s side.
OU football coach Barry Switzer has deemed Selmon the best player he ever coached.
“People just tend to think skilled players are the best players, but Lee Roy Selmon was the greatest player I ever had play,” Switzer said. “He totally dominated his position. In the 30 years I was in coaching, I’d always hear about how inconsistent a guy would play, or that he had a poor game. Lee Roy Selmon never had a poor game.”
A native of Eufaula, Selmon won both the Lombardi and Outland trophies as the nation’s outstanding collegiate lineman in 1975 and was the first player selected in the 1976 NFL Draft and the first draft choice in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers history.
“I’m humbled,” Selmon of being considered the greatest Sooner ever. “You can say that about a lot of my teammates and other great players over the years. One thing at playing at the University of Oklahoma was great people and talented players.”
Lee Roy was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988 and in 1995 became the first player in OU history to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Selmon played alongside brothers Dewey and Lucious at OU, forming one of the toughest defensive fronts in college football history.
“The fortunes of Oklahoma football changed defensively,” said former Sooners assistant Larry Lacewell, who initially had Lucious as part of a back-up recruiting plan and wound up landing the Selmon mother lode. “We went from OK the first year Lucious got there in 1970, to great. When I had the three of them in 1973, we were one of the greatest defensive teams in history.
“And they’re the reason.”
The Selmons have long been considered the First Family of Oklahoma Football.
“A very happy family. A very supportive family,” Lee Roy told The Oklahoman last month. “To this day, we support each other. As I look back on that, the love that our parents shared with us and the love that we have for each other is the most important thing we have.”
“I just love it that we are all believers in Christ, which is quite remarkable in itself, and probably what holds us together, the way that we do. It’s a great feeling to know that you can call on any of your brothers and sisters and know that they’ll be there.”
With at least one Selmon in the starting lineup, the Sooners went 54-3-1, won two national titles and four Big Eight crowns.
Dewey presented Lee Roy at the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, where Lucious also was in attendance.
“For 31 years, he was my celibate wife,” Dewey said of Lee Roy.