Teammates insist the greatest player in Oklahoma football history was never knocked off his feet, but not even Lee Roy Selmon could conquer the massive stroke he suffered at home Friday.
After spending two days in critical condition and with family members by his side, Selmon died Sunday in Tampa, Fla. He was 56.
“It is with very heavy hearts that the Selmon family announces the passing of our beloved husband, father and brother, Lee Roy Selmon,” the Selmon family said in a statement. “Lee Roy passed away today surrounded by family and friends at St. Joseph's Hospital.
“For all his accomplishments on and off the field, to us Lee Roy was the rock of our family. This has been a sudden and shocking event, and we are devastated by this unexpected loss. We deeply appreciate the prayers and support shown by family, friends, the football community and the public over the past two days.”
With Lee Roy lined up alongside older brothers Lucious and Dewey, the Selmons comprised arguably the most dominant defensive line in the history of college football.
Coaches and teammates claim they never saw Lee Roy knocked on his back side.
“When you see him make plays on film, Lee Roy Selmon would make tackles and lay people down,” former OU coach Barry Switzer said. “Everybody else would have crumpled to the ground, and Lee Roy Selmon would still be standing up.”
Former OU assistant Larry Lacewell recruited the Selmons out of Eufaula High School.
“I've never seen him play bad my whole life,” Lacewell once said of Lee Roy.
Ever seen him knocked off his feet?
“That's the legend, and I can't go against it,” Lacewell said. “I've never heard a guy who's been with him, or coached against him, who didn't say he's the best they've seen. I mean everybody. It's incredible, but it's all true.”
Lucious played two seasons at OU with Dewey and Lee Roy, who were in the same class despite being born 11 months apart.
With a Selmon in the lineup, the Sooners had a combined record of 54-3-1. Lee Roy and Dewey went 43-2-1, winning back-to-back national titles in 1974-75, four Big Eight titles and going 38 consecutive games without a loss.
Lee Roy won both the Lombardi and Outland trophies as the nation's outstanding collegiate lineman in 1975.
Receiver Tinker Owens was Lee Roy's teammate for four seasons at OU and later played against him in the NFL.
“I haven't seen anybody any better, even in pro football,” Owens said.
Former Detroit Lions coach Monte Clark said Lee Roy was “a grown man at work among a bunch of boys.”
The Selmons long have been considered the First Family of Oklahoma Football.
“I'm still a little bit overwhelmed any time one of us are singled out,” Lee Roy said before being honored on Owen Field at halftime of the OU-South Florida game in 2002.
“Any type of recognition is just a reflection of all those people we played with. I'm humbled by it.”