* While it’s still surprising that there is no Lee Roy Selmon statue in front of Raymond James Stadium, it’s totally appropriate to have one in downtown Tampa. Near the Riverwalk at the corner of E Brorein Street and S Florida Avenue, to be precise. Selmon is depicted in business casual, which includes his retired No. 63 Bucs jersey over a collared dress shirt. He’s smiling, as was his wont.
Selmon was no mere Hall of Fame talent. He was the face of the early Bucs franchise. He was their first-ever draft pick, and he was their best, still most-iconic player. But he was also a major community presence–from business ventures to USF athletic director to mentoring and charitable contributions. He also epitomized class. Before there was Derrick Brooks, Ronde Barber, John Lynch and Gerald McCoy, there was Lee Roy Selmon.
The first time I met Selmon–as a journalist–was not in a locker room or on a field. It was in a Barnett Bank office. I was doing a story on athletes and business for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. As in how they prepared for life after the sports spotlight. He was working as a banker in the off-season. Not as a “greeter” or an advertising shill, but as someone actually learning the banking business. He was soft spoken and accommodating. He would later become a vice president at Barnett as well as First Florida Bank of Tampa.
He said that he wanted to be able to work WITH his agent–not just blindly assign him to cut some deals. He wanted to know the business side as a businessman–not as a marketable athlete. He wanted to be the best he could be at whatever he did. And he succeeded in everything but longevity. He left us much too soon.
* “Don’t be that guy.” That was Bucs head coach Bruce Arian’s pointed advice to his players after the end of the recent mini-camp. It basically means: “Don’t make headlines for all the wrong reasons.” Indeed, there’s ample precedent. The Bucs will reassemble next month to begin pre-season training.
* “Right now, they’re better than us.” That was the candid assessment of the Rays by Boston manager Joey Cora after the Red Sox recently lost three of four to the Rays at Fenway and were outscored 21-9.
* Congrats, University of Tampa, NCAA Division II national baseball champions. Again. It was the Spartans’ eighth, the fifth under head coach Joey Urso. And congrats Mike Martin, 75, and the FSU Seminoles, who have advanced as underdogs to the College World Series in Martin’s 40th–and last–season. Martin, the all-time wins leader in all NCAA sports, and the ‘Noles have been there 16 times before–and haven’t won–yet. So good luck, Mike Martin, in your final shot before retirement. Go, ‘Noles.