The death of Lee Roy Selmon Sunday hit the local sports community hard, especially former Tampa Bay Buccaneers teammates.
"This is devastating for the NFL community, the Tampa Bay community and everyone that knew Mr. Lee Roy Selmon," said former Bucs tight end Jimmie Giles, the newest inductee in the franchise's Ring of Honor. "Everyone knew he was a great football player, but he's also one of the nicest guys I ever met."
"Lee Roy's legacy is he's the most peaceful guy you'd ever want to meet. He always made you smile, and that's a pretty rare thing to say about anybody. Every time you were around him, he made you feel better."
Former Bucs quarterback Doug Williams and Selmon were particularly close.
"I don't know what to say," Williams said by phone from Louisiana, where he is the head football coach at Grambling State University. "Nobody expects something like this to happen, but you don't control it. I'm 56, just like Lee Roy. There's not a whole lot to say."
After Selmon retired from the Bucs in 1985, he was a frequent visitor to team headquarters, passing on his knowledge to the next generation of players.
"He was a great person that loved the Lord and a great example of humility," former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks said in a text message. "Tampa had great fortune to have Tom McEwen and Lee Roy. What a year – two of the best not here any longer."
Sunday's somber news was particularly upsetting to Plant High School football coach Bob Weiner, who appreciated Selmon's avid support of the school's football program.
In a glass case in the original Lee Roy Selmon's restaurant near Tampa International Airport, a Plant helmet and signed football from one of the three state championship teams is prominently displayed.
"He was a champion for high school sports; but mostly, he was a champion for humanity," Weiner said. "We teach our kids to be ferocious on the football field, but when they step off the field to be gentlemen. I don't know that you have a better example of that than Lee Roy Selmon. His humility was 100 percent sincere."
"I was there at the beginning when things weren't always so good, but Lee Roy was always a shining light."