Finding character in current and former athletes and coaches can oftentimes be a tough task. With the frequent news of athletes getting arrested for a variety of crimes, it has to make you wonder why Americans support certain players with long rap sheets.
That is why it is a pleasure to highlight some former athletes and coaches with character. The recent passing of Tampa Bay Bucs Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon prompted this blog post. Selmon was a rare figure in his sport. Not only is he still the lone Buccaneer in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but he is also perhaps one of the most respected, genuine men to ever wear a helmet and shoulder pads.
It is difficult to find other athletes who can be compared to Selmon, However, there are a few other current and former football icons with Florida connections who come to mind – Tim Tebow, Tony Dungy, and Derrick Brooks.
One of the most fascinating figures in college football history is Tim Tebow. Love him or hate him, the University of Florida graduate has an international following – and is only 24 years old. His commitment to Christianity shined brightly during his prolific college career. He even had a scripture written in the eye-black on his face. For many years, he and his family have also been involved in missionary work around the world. He is currently the third-string quarterback for the Denver Broncos. If Tebow can find a way to succeed in the NFL, he could revolutionize the image of future athletes because of how unique he is as a human being.
Tony Dungy may be the most soft-spoken individual to play and coach football. But he was extremely successful at it, leading the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl championship to finish off the 2006 season. While coaching the Tampa Bay Bucs from 1996-2001, Dungy established himself as a leader in the community and dedicated himself to numerous charitable efforts. n August 2007, former President George W. Bush appointed Dungy as a member of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. He is now an analyst on NBC’s NFL coverage and the author of “Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, & Priorities of a Winning Life.”
A future Hall of Famer, Derrick Brooks spent 14 seasons as a top linebacker feared by many players in the NFL, playing his entire career with the Buccaneers. Brooks continues to be involved in charity work in the Tampa Bay area and oversees many of his own charities (see www.db55.com). Brooks was a recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2000 and the “Whizzer” White NFL Man of the Year Award in 2003. He and Selmon seem to share more in common than most because of the positions they played along with their on-field talent and off-the-field demeanor. When it comes to being a person of character, Brooks is already following in Selmon’s footsteps.