UPDATE: Sadly, two days after suffering a serious stroke and being mistakenly announced dead, Lee Roy Selmon has passed away. Please visit this current story for information on Selmon's death.
The news on NFL Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon is not good, but it is far better than some had feared.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers legend suffered a massive stroke and is reportedly in crititcal condition. After initial reports that Selmon had passed away, it has been reported that he is alive and "responsive" at a Tampa hospital.
According to The St. Petersburg Times, the 56-year-old Selmon was "unresponsive and not breathing" when medical personnel arrived at his home in Tampa on Friday. Selmon was rushed to nearby St. Joseph's Hospital and news of his stroke traveled nearly as fast throughout the country.
The first-ever draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the athletic director at the University of South Florida from 2001–04, Selmon is a beloved figure in Florida. As one of the greatest football players that the University of Oklahoma has ever produced, Selmon is also revered by Sooners fans from coast to coast.
Amidst the confusion following his hospitalization, a chain of restaurants owned by the 1979 NFL Defensive Player of the Year issued a statement that he had died.
“It is with the deepest and most profound sorrow that we learned our dear friend Lee Roy Selmon’s passing this afternoon,” a statement from his restaurant said. “Lee Roy Selmon was a man of honor, integrity, strength and family values. He was our dear friend and business partner for many years.”
This erroneous statement confirmed the worst fears of many of Selmon's friends and admirers. Soon enough, Twitter further disseminated the false report of his death.
Death of NFL Hall of Famer and former Bucs star Lee Roy Selmon shocks friends, business partners: http://t.co/4TOf5yW
As more information became available, representatives from the restaurant issued a second statement to say that Selmon was indeed still alive. Selmon's brother, Dewey, who also starred on the gridiron at Oklahoma and played with the Bucs, told 10 News in Tampa that Lee was alive and "showing signs of progress."
While Dewey's update was welcome news, it couldn't halt the rumors that his brother had passed away. Noah Pransky, an Investigator at 10 News Tampa, took to Twitter to refute the false rumors and admonish anyone who spread them without confirmation.
If anyone learns a lesson last night w/Selmon's stroke, its the importance of confirming news before Tweeting it as fact.
Of course, the confusion in this case is somewhat understandable given that a seemingly reliable source, Selmon's own public relations staff, issued a statement indicating that he had passed. Fans of Selmon's were disappointed that SportsCenter on ESPN did not make any mention of the stroke on Friday evening. Given the extensive reach of ESPN, it seems likely that they could have quickly set the record straight.
I just watched SportsCenter. Not so much as a mention of Lee Roy Selmon. Unconscionable.
ESPN's NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas addressed his employer's coverage of Selmon in a brief post to his ESPN blog on Friday evening. He mentioned the rampant confusion surrounding the story and noted that ESPN was adhering to its "news desk standards." He assured readers that confirmed information would be available on the website's NFL page when available. True to his word, ESPN would file a report on Selmon's stroke.