OCT. 1, 1979
Perhaps no one has benefited more from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' surprising turnaround this season than Dewey Selmon's long-distance telephone carrier. Since the Bucs beat the Detroit Lions 24-17 on Sept. 7 for the second victory in what would become a season-opening five-game winning streak, Selmon, a former Tampa Bay linebacker, who lives in Norman, Okla., has been regularly ringing up his younger (by 11 months) brother, Lee Roy, a former Buccaneers defensive end, in Tampa. "Every week I've been calling Lee Roy and asking, "What's with the Bucs?' " says Dewey, 44. "I was always wondering if they were for real or just a flash."
In 1979 the Selmons heard that question after Tampa Bay, a perennial loser that once dropped 26 straight games, started the season 3-0. In Week 4 the Bucs silenced disbelievers by dumping the powerful Los Angeles Rams 21-6. One of Dewey's tackles in that game, a jarring hit on running back Lawrence McCutcheon, made SI's cover. "That was a big game because it solidified us as a contender," says Dewey, who runs a commercial construction business in Norman. The Bucs finished the season 10-6 to earn their first NFC Central crown.
After helping Oklahoma to back-to-back titles in 1974 and '75, the Selmons graduated to the NFL. Lee Roy became the first draft pick of the expansion Buccaneers, and Dewey was chosen in the second round. The Bucs' worst-to-first season of 1979 ended when they lost 9-0 to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game. Three years later the Selmons were separated after Dewey was traded to the San Diego Chargers. He spent one season with the Chargers before returning to Norman to work as an oil and gas consultant. In 1993 he opened his construction business.
Dewey spends football Sundays with his wife, Kathryn, their three daughters, Shannon, 18, Megan, 16, and Lauren, 14, and their son, Zachary, 13, watching the Bucs on television. Between games he spends a lot of time on the phone with Lee Roy, dissecting Tampa Bay's strengths and weaknesses. A strong showing by the Buccaneers in the postseason would allow Dewey and Lee Roy to hold some of those sessions in person. "If the Bucs make the Super Bowl, we'll meet up," Dewey says. "Getting tickets shouldn't be a problem. We still have connections in Tampa Bay."