LEE ROY SELMON: Buccaneer Icon/Tampa Legend


With all eyes on the Buccaneers this week for the Super Bowl, we share a nod back to one of their most legendary players, Lee Roy Selmon. Lee Roy Selmon was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first overall pick in the 1976 draft. He went on to have an incredible career both on the field and off the field and embedded himself in serving the Tampa Bay community. Years after his death, the Hall of Famer continues to have a positive impact on our community.

As the namesake of the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, Mr. Selmon collaborated with THEA (Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority- owners and operators of the Expressway) to continue his mission of providing mentorship and educational opportunities in Tampa Bay. To honor him, THEA founded the Selmon STEM Scholarship Program to provide young scholars with opportunities and exposure to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Each year, THEA awards:

  • 4 USF students with monetary scholarships
  • Sponsors an annual bridge building competition to give middle school and high school students in Tampa Bay STEM enrichment opportunities outside of the classroom
  • Recruits USF Engineering students for paid internship opportunities at THEA to learn more about the transportation industry

THEA continues to honor his memory with a heroic-size bronze sculpture in downtown Tampa, near USF’s medical school, along the Selmon Greenway. At the unveiling, THEA CEO Joe Waggoner said, “Lee Roy Selmon is an icon of the community – a leader wrapped in an unpretentious personality that exuded warmth and respect for every person he met. “Future generations will be reminded of Mr. Selmon’s commitment to education and his community, and our hope is that they- and each of us- will continue to learn from him and be inspired to do our part in making our community a better place.”

Lee Roy Selmon Tampa Bay Timeline

1954 – Born to Lucious and Jessie Selmon in Eufaula, Oklahoma. Lee Roy Selmon was the youngest of 9 children. 

1971 – The National Honor Society member attends the University of Oklahoma in Norman on an athletic scholarship.

1974 – 3 Time All American at O.U. Lee Roy and his brother Dewey help the Sooners win back to back National Championship titles.

1975 – Graduates from O.U. after earning a Bachelor of Arts in Special Education. 

1976 – #1 pick of the 1976 NFL Draft. 1st pick of Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

1979 – NFL Defensive Player of the Year

1979- Selmon was a major factor in the Bucs’ first winning season, which was concluded with a 9-0 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the 1979 NFC Championship Game. Lee Roy had 11 sacks and a career-best 117 tackles that year. He had three sacks in one game four times

1980 – 1985 – Selected for the NFL Pro Bowls

1986 – Retires from pro-football #63 jersey only one retired by Bucs.

1988 – Inducted College Football Hall of Fame.

1993 – Joined the University of South Florida as Associate Athletic Director starting in 1993 and served as Athletic Director from May 2001 until he stepped down in February 2004.

1995 – Inducted into NFL Hall of Fame; the first former Sooner and the only Tampa Bay Buccaneer to date.

2008 – THEA renames the “Crosstown” to the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway to honor the local legend

2011 – The University of South Florida announces that the athletic center will be renamed, “Lee Roy Selmon Athletic Center.”

2019 –  On June 7, 2019, the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority (THEA) dedicated a statue honoring football icon and community leader Lee Roy Selmon. The bronze statue, sculpted by Joel Randell, is located on the Selmon Greenway and will forever serve as a community memorial honoring one of Tampa’s greatest champions.