So many things made the Selmon brothers special.
Their story, sleeping in the same bed on the old farm in Huttonville, outside Eufaula. Their family, of which I can personally vouch for three generations of quality. Their humility. Their ballplaying. Don't ever forget their ballplaying.
But all these years later, what still strikes me most about the Brothers Selmon is their gentleness. They are gentle men.
Not gentlemen as in opening the door for a lady or keeping your mouth shut when you want to spout off, though they were that, too. But gentle men.
A serene countenance. A peaceful presence. A regal spirit.
Jessie Selmon's baby boy died Sunday. The greatest Sooner of them all is gone. Lee Roy Selmon was 56 and hadn't lived in Oklahoma for more than 35 years. Yet his stature had not diminished.
Lee Roy Selmon was the best of the best. The greatest player. And if not the greatest person, it's only because of the stiff competition coming from that guy in the bed next to him back on the farm, virtual twin Dewey.
These gentle giants awed us, because they belied reality. Playing defensive line, a brutal, violent position in a brutal, violent sport, they excelled without a spirit of aggression. The Selmon brothers were incapable of being mean.
Good thing older brother Lucious was around, with a hint or two of earthiness, else we'd have sworn Lee Roy and Dewey were seraphims. Angelic football players. Who knew such a thing was possible?
Hard to live up to such reverence, but darned if the Selmons haven't done it.
Lucious coached at OU for 20 years, and Dewey stuck around Norman after his NFL days, reminding us of Camelot.
Lee Roy went to Tampa Bay in the 1976 NFL Draft and never left. Reading about Lee Roy over the years, and since his stroke on Friday, it's possible he was held in even higher esteem in that Florida metropolis than in Oklahoma. Icon doesn't begin to describe how Tampa feels about Lee Roy Selmon.
He would come back often. I last chatted with Lee Roy at his nephew's wedding a few years ago, and watching all the Selmons laugh and love at the outdoor reception, nine siblings and their descendants strong, it was easy to picture bygone days, back on the farm. A monument to Jessie and Lucious Sr.
A few years ago, Lee Roy was honored as a distinguished graduate of OU's College of Education (he and Dewey were academic all-Americans).
That night Lee Roy told a story, how part of his Special Education degree included a field trip to a Pauls Valley facility that housed mentally and physically handicapped.
Lee Roy's OU professor told him words that the gentle giant never forgot. The people in that facility “in reality are more like you than they are different from you."
Wouldn't it be something if we all could say the same about Lee Roy Selmon?
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.