It was with great dismay that I heard Lee Roy Selmon suffered a massive stroke. Initial reports last night stated that Selmon had died, but this is not the case. He was in 'extremely critical' condition at St. Joseph's hospital in St. Petersburgh Florida. The television report indicated that he had a blood clot lodged in his heart.
Incidentally, a blood clot in the heart was the malady that killed former Chief defensive end (and Hall of Famer) Derrick Thomas.
This is is hard news. The NFL Network is reporting that his condition is now stable and improving, so there is some reason to wipe the sweat off your brow.
As kid growing up and playing on defensive line in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Lee Roy was one of the iconic role models I looked up too. I wore number 63 in those days. I wore that number because I thought it was great number, regardless of what side of the field you played on. On the offensive side of the ball, Gene Upshaw wore that number. On the defensive side of the field, Lee Roy Selmon wore that number. I was aware of other greats like Ernie Holmes and Willie Lanier. I wanted to be like those guys.
We were all particularly awestruck by Lee Roy, though. He was a defensive force as a 5-technique defensive end in a 3 man line. There weren't many ends who could make that claim. In fact, there really weren't any other ends in a 3 man line that could make that claim until Howie Long came along. Recently, only Richard Seymour could stake such a claim.
Everyone always wondered what Lee Roy might do if he played in a 4 man line. We all thought it would be pretty spectacular.
Usually a 5 technique end is a 350 pound space eater. He doesn't need to be particularly athletic, or active. He just needs to eat space and be stout at the point of attack. If he is that much, the linebackers will be able to run around and flow freely to point of attack. The 3-4 is all about destroying an offensive unit with your linebackers.
Selmon was not a 350 space eater. He was a roving destroyer who got the point of attack quickly and smashed the ball-carrier. He did pretty well in the sack-department also, scoring 78 sacks in just 8 years. It's not easy to tally about 10 sacks a year in a 3 man line. None of the Steeler or Packer linemen can do that today.
After being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Lee Roy became a fairly significant Restaurant owner, with his chain being voted one of the 10 sports bars in the country back in 2009. He was into food, as am I.
We all hope he will make a full recovery, but the truth is this doesn't look good. He may recover, but with a terrible stroke as this, side effects, brain damage, and physical impairments are typical. This would be a dreadful thing.
Lee Roy is only 56 years old, and won't turn 57 for more than a month and a half. He's certainly too young to go, and he has a lot going for him. If he should pass away, this will be an object lesson on how premature death strikes former NFL linemen.
We all wish him the best and pray for a full recovery.