The Legacy of Lee Roy Selmon
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
FEBRUARY 21, 2012
Simple, says former teammate and All-American running back Joe Washington.
"When you think of Oklahoma football, you will always think of Lee Roy Selmon."
The impact of Lee Roy Selmon?
Zac Selmon thinks about that and his uncle daily. Lee Roy's jersey sits in a frame behind Zac's desk in his office inside the north end of the stadium where Lee Roy used to play.
"I feel it more because I'm around OU every day," Zac said. "Hearing the stories. Being part of it. All of it makes me feel good just knowing someone like that is in my family."
And that's the thing, say the ones who knew him best. Lee Roy Selmon made everyone feel they were family. As Oklahoma celebrates Black History Month by profiling a quartet of Sooner athletes, that's the impact of Lee Roy Selmon.
"He just made you feel good all the time," said Zac, an assistant director of the Sooner Club. "It's something simple. You felt good knowing him and if you didn't know him, you felt good watching him play. He had an ability to take joy from his heart and give it to other people. He had that gift of putting joy and hope in others."
Selmon died in September of a stroke but his impact on Oklahoma will live on.
"He was a person of greatness," said former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer, who coached Selmon. "When you were in his presence, you were in front of royalty. His gentleness, uniqueness and demeanor were amazing. The way he presented himself was something to behold."
And on the field, he was something to behold, too.
Selmon, along with his brothers Lucious and Dewey, were part of one of the best defenses in NCAA history. He went on to help the Sooners win national championships in 1974 and 1975 and was named an All-American both seasons.
From there, Selmon was the No. 1 pick in the 1976 NFL draft and was a six-time All-Pro performer which led to him being named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
"We understood that we had something special," Washington said of the Sooner teams that featured Selmon. "I felt sorry for that team coming down that ramp knowing that quarterback and running back were going to have a long day. I was thankful it wasn't me playing against those three guys."
Think of Oklahoma football, Lee Roy Selmon comes to mind. Think of the Selmon and maybe his brothers come to mind, too. Think of Lee Roy and nearly everyone says the same thing.
"When you say 'Lee Roy Selmon,' to anyone it elicits a great sense of appreciation, if not love," Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione said.
Appreciation for on-field accomplishments are understandable, but it's really the off-the-field accomplishments that make Selmon commendable.
"People continually come up to me and say, "I remember that one time in the burger joint that I met your uncle. He didn't know me and reached out and gave me a big hug. I still remember that,'" Zac Selmon said.
"You realize that you have to touch people's lives to have them still talk about you. Maybe it's one moment, or something more. Lee Roy had that loving spirit. He genuinely connected with people and he connected because he cared about people. He cared about everyone."
And he cared about people by involving himself in the communities of Oklahoma and then in Tampa Bay, first as a player and then as the Athletic Director at the University of South Florida.
"He wasn't just a football player here or in Tampa," Zac Selmon said. "He wanted to make a difference. He said his purpose in life was to help and serve others."
That's why Selmon deflected credit. First, on the field. And then off. Switzer says Selmon refused the idea that he was a star. Even denying it, staying humble.
"Lee Roy was the last person who wanted the credit," Zac Selmon said. "Grew up in a one-bedroom house with no running water and no electricity. It wasn't about what you have, it was what you do with the life you get. Lee Roy never changed. That's what makes him unique."
And that's the impact of Lee Roy Selmon.
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This is the second feature in a special four-part series as OU celebrates Black History Month.
Gautt's impact is still felt at Oklahoma and beyond.
|Lee Roy Selmon
As dominant as he was on the field, his legacy...
Tisdale captivated fans with his infectious smile.
|Teresa (Ray) Turner
Turner continues to give back to student-athletes.