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Number 63 in your Program and Number One in your Hearts!!

I heard Tedd Webb use that line many times on 970 WFLA when introducing Lee Roy Selmon for his twice weekly radio segment back in the early 90’s.  Lee Roy hosted segments on both Mondays and Fridays for several years.  The Monday segment was called, “The Buc Stops Here” and was a review of the Bucs game from the day before.  The Friday segment was called “Selmon Sez” and would be a preview of the upcoming weekend game between the Bucs and that week’s opponent.  

And just between you and me, it wasn’t particularly spellbinding radio by any measure of sports journalism.  But it just didn’t matter.  It was Lee Roy Selmon and everyone would listen.  Lee Roy was very predictable.  But it just didn’t matter.  It was Lee Roy Selmon.  He wasn’t predictable because he was boring or uninformed.  He was predictable because he was just so darn NICE and diplomatic and soft-spoken and gentle and he was simply not going to say a single thing that would be hurtful to a player from either team, a coach, a fan…anyone.  That was Lee Roy…and everyone would listen.  


I guess the funniest was the Friday segment when Lee Roy would give us his analysis on the upcoming Bucs game.  At the end of the segment Tedd would always ask Lee Roy to pick the winner.  Had Lee Roy been right each week then the Bucs would have been 16-0 for at least three straight years.  That’s right….Lee Roy never once picked the Bucs to lose a game.  It just wasn’t in his DNA.  While we all knew about his positive outlook and optimism, the real reason was he just thought it would not be very kind to pick his beloved Bucs to lose.  That may be why you never saw Lee Roy on ESPN.  


We all got a real kick out of that and I enjoyed mentioning it to Lee Roy at least once every season.  He would just break out in to that laugh that we all know and just say something like, “Well, I just don’t know what else to tell you!”  He really didn’t because that would involve saying something he perceived to be impolite at best and mean at its worst.  


That’s how I will always remember Lee Roy Selmon.  But the one event that sticks out the most to me is a simple kindness he showed an aging college basketball fan….my mom.  Shortly after Lee Roy had taken over as Athletic Director at the University of South Florida to help build a football program I asked him for a favor.  You see my mom is from Kentucky (so am I) and she rooted for all teams Kentucky and was a HUGE college basketball fan.  


The University of Louisville was coming to town to play the Bulls and mom asked me if I could get us some good seats and take her to the game.  So I called my friend Lee Roy Selmon and asked him if there was any way I could buy a couple of great seats to bring my mom to the game.  I was a little embarrassed as I explained my mom was NOT a USF fan but would be rooting for Louisville.  I thought I should really tell him that up front.  Lee Roy said no problem and that two tickets would be at the will call window.


So mom and I arrived at the will call window to find two complimentary tickets.  No charge.  That Lee Roy.  I would have to repay him somehow.  I don’t think I ever did however.  We entered the arena and I couldn’t figure out the location of the seats.  The section and row didn’t make any sense.  So I showed them to an usher and asked for help.  The usher’s eyebrows raised and he just smiled and said follow me.  He led us down the stairs and ON TO THE BASKETBALL FLOOR!  He showed us two folding chairs just out of bounds on the sideline right on the floor.  Holy cow!  My mother was in absolute heaven and it was an experience she never forgot and Lee Roy made sure she had the best seats she had ever had for any college basketball game in her entire life….and my mother had probably been to hundreds of games.


So here is a guy taking care of someone who wasn’t a football fan and was going to root for the bad guys.  He did it because it was someone’s mom…and THAT was Lee Roy Selmon.  Of course mom added USF to her favorite teams after that experience.  Mom never had a chance to thank him in person.  But sometime Sunday evening I know she finally had that chance as I lost my mom just over a year ago and we lost Lee Roy Sunday afternoon.  That was the only thing that made me smile in all of this. 


I’m not a proficient blog writer as some of you know but this is a man that could move people to do a lot of things they didn’t normally do.  And he could do it with kindness.  Thanks for some wonderful memories Lee Roy.  “Number 63 in your program and number one in your hearts.”  That’s Lee Roy Selmon.  May God rest his soul and comfort his family.


Hey Lee Roy…who do you like between the Bucs and the Lions this Sunday?  Right.