For Pete's Sake

By: Pete Fierle

Pete Fierle, Manager - Digital Media/Communications
Pete's familiarity with the game's history is a result of spending two decades surrounded by the world's largest collection of pro football information. His many duties include overseeing the Hall's website as well as the day-to-day operation of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.

Fire those cannons

Oct 23, 2009

In early August just as I was preparing for our annual enshrinement ceremony, I read with great enjoyment that Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Lee Roy Selmon will be honored as the first member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers new Ring of Honor.

When the Buccaneers return from London, they get a week off and then return to Raymond James Stadium to face the Green Bay Packers on Nov. 8. It is at that game that they’ll honor the franchise’s first-ever draft pick and the first Buccaneer to earn a bust in Canton.

I’ll get to Lee Roy in a moment. But first, let me talk about what the Bucs are doing. If you visit our section on the history of the NFL teams, you’ll notice a tab labeled “Team Greats” for each of the current 32 clubs. This is where we promote how the teams honor their individual greats. It’s here where you can find direct links to the Dolphins Honor Roll, the Packers Hall of Fame, the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame among the many other ways teams honor the best players, coaches, and others from their past.

If you click on the Buccaneers, you’d see a link to the history section of their website. In a couple of weeks, we’re changing that so our website will link directly to the Bucs’ Ring of Honor.

You see, all of us at the Hall of Fame come to work each and every day with one goal in mind. And that’s to uphold our mission statement (see it here).

If you just clicked on that link, you noticed that our mission statement starts with the line, “to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to professional football.”

The Pro Football Hall of Fame, including the recent six-man Class of 2009 – Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson, Jr., and Rod Woodson – has only 253 members. Of that group, 219 were players.
“Our” players represent the greatest 219 players from the 20,000-plus who’ve played in the National Football League since it started in Canton, Ohio in 1920.

That doesn’t mean that there haven’t been hundreds and hundreds of other great players who won’t make it to Canton but nevertheless had spectacular careers.

We applaud all of the teams who go to these great lengths to pay tribute to those individuals who’ve helped make the NFL the envy of all other sports leagues.

So, hats off (or should I say helmets off) to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the new Ring of Fame.

Lee Roy Selmon is the obvious choice to be the first honored in the team’s Ring of Fame. And that has nothing to do with the delicious menu at his restaurants in the Tampa area. I ate at his place during the Super Bowl last year and my dinner was outstanding. And, no Lee Roy didn’t pay me for that quick promo.

Selmon has always been the face of this franchise. When the expansion team started up in 1976, he was the first ever draft pick. He quickly established himself as one of the most dominating pass rushers of his era.

While many recall that the Bucs’ began by going 0-26, many forget to remember quite how quickly the franchise’s fortunes turned. Tampa went from 0-14 in ’76, 2-12 in ’77, and 5-11 in ’78 before winning the NFC Central Division with a 10-6 record in 1979 just its fourth season. Two years later, the team won another division title. Through it all, Selmon was the Bucs leader.

He amassed 78.5 sacks during his career and added nearly 400 more quarterback pressures. Seeing No. 63 coming was one of an NFL quarterback’s worst nightmares from 1976 through 1984. The six-time Pro Bowl lineman hung up his cleats after the ’84 season.

Eleven years later, he was standing on the front steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio being honored as the first member of the Buccaneers to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

On November 8, he again enjoys the limelight as the team places him permanently into the Ring of Fame.

Congratulations to Lee Roy. And, congrats to the Buccaneers!