Today we will weep
Lee Roy Selmon has passed away at the age of 56 following a stroke. Lee Roy takes with him the love, respect and goodwill of a close family and generations of citizens of Tampa Bay and fans from around the globe.

Today they will weep.

Lee Roy Selmon leaves behind a legacy of philanthropy, entrepreneurship and intellectualism so great that his Hall of Fame athletic exploits are but mere footnotes to his life. Lee Roy Selmon was a positive force in the lives of many. Countless children were mentored by him, countless teammates and co-workers were inspired by him and countless others were motivated by his example of civic-mindedness and decency.

Today they will weep.

A recap of Lee Roy Selmon’s football accomplishments seems superfluous. A Hall of Fame defensive end, Lee Roy Selmon was never feared as much as he was respected. His gentle, decent nature is evident in highlight films. Very rarely do you see a clip of Lee Roy Selmon violently hitting an opponent.

Most of his sacks and tackles involve leveraging the opponent to the ground with one arm while the other is extended to help break the fall. This was an amazing feat not only because of the physical strength required but because of the stunning sportsmanship being displayed. Lee Roy Selmon tackled people for a living; he left the brutality to others. This is why Lee Roy Selmon was viewed as one of the most popular members of the Hall of Fame by his peers.

Today they will weep.

Lee Roy Selmon was an inspiration to me and proved that boyhood heroes don’t always have to diminish in the reality of adulthood. When I was obviously intimidated during an interview in his office at USF in 2004, Lee Roy calmly started to ask me some questions about my project, family and life in Ohio.

Within moments I was relaxed and Lee Roy easily slipped back into the role of interviewee and good-naturedly answered all questions. Five years later in Richmond Park I was stunned when he recognized me by sight and thanked me for his copy of “McKay’s Men.”

Today I will weep.

But today is only one day of many left to all of us. These days are gifts given to us and we are the ultimate arbiters of how they are used. Lee Roy Selmon was given the gift of 56 years worth of days and he made more than fair use of his allotted time. It is rare for one individual to possess all the better angels of our nature but Lee Roy Selmon came very close and we should all be thankful for that.

But it would be unfair to Lee Roy if all we did was to look back on his life and simply say, “What a nice man,” or, “Yes, he was more than just a football player.” It would be an abdication of duty by all of us who claim Lee Roy Selmon as a role model.

The best way to thank Lee Roy Selmon is to take up the challenge to live our lives as fully as he did and to fully realize the potential we have to be decent to each other.

Today we should weep. But tomorrow we should strive to create a world as it should be and not merely be content in living in one as it is. That would be the best way to say, “Thank you, Lee Roy.”