‘You Have a Point’ About Lee Roy Selmon Coverage — Tampa Tribune’s Joey Johnston

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Yesterday I posted an item with the uncomfortable suggestion that coverage of the death of Lee Roy Selmon should have included the information that, days before his fatal stroke, Selmon had issued a denial of his reported involvement in a new lawsuit by ex-Tampa Bay Buccaneers players against the National Football League and helmet manufacturers.

I then emailed the post to journalists at the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times with this prefatory note:

I mean no disrespect to Mr. Selmon. Nor am I suggesting that this is exactly parallel to Dave Duerson; Mr. Selmon had every right to correct the record on his lack of involvement in the recently announced lawsuit, and he also had every right to believe, on principle, that such a lawsuit was wrong (if that is what he believed).

However, I think the juxtaposition mentioned in my blog post below should be routinely reported in the course of the hundreds of column inches devoted to Mr. Selmon’s death. And I have not found such a reference. Am I right about that?

An unsigned respondent from the St. Petersburg Times sports desk, missing the point, wrote back: “If and when the Selmon family (or their doctors) choose to link Mr. Selmon’s stroke to football-related head injuries, we’ll be glad to report that.” But I wasn’t asking the Times to wait for permission to enlighten its readers.

Joey Johnston of the Tampa Tribune was more forthright. “You have a point,” he said. “The potential parallel was chronicled the day of the stroke [last Friday], but not mentioned the day of the death [Sunday]. There’s an element of conjecture there, sure, but it all makes you wonder.”

Johnston previously had led the reporting team of an excellent in-depth Tribune story on the health plight of players from the Bucs’ first division championship team in 1979. See “Broken Bucs,” http://duke1.tbo.com/content/2010/jul/25/260710/bucs-first-success-came-costly-toll/sports-bucs-broken/.


Irv Muchnick

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Concussion Inc. - Author Irvin Muchnick