Later today, the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2019 will be announced as part of the NFL’s Honors ceremony. Among the 18 nominees — 15 modern era players, two contributors, one senior nominee — to potentially get inshrined are also two former members of the New England Patriots. Cornerback Ty Law is in the final round for the third time, while defensive tackle Richard Seymour is a first-time finalist.
The two pillars of the Patriots’ early dynasty have an impressive résumé of individual accolades and team success, but still face a tough challenge to get one of the coveted golden jackets. In order to possibly help sway the voters’ opinion towards one or both of the two, a pair of future Hall of Famers has recently written letters to the voting committee: current Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the team’s head coach, Bill Belichick.
“Ty Law was a pain in the ass … which I know he would acknowledge as the term of endearment it is intended to be,” begins Brady’s letter about the cornerback. The two played alongside each other for five seasons, during which they won three Super Bowls together as Law was voted to three Pro Bowls. What helped the cornerback establish himself as one of the top coverage players of his era was his physicality.
“There have been a lot of great cover corners in the NFL during my career. While Ty would certainly qualify as one of them, what made him unique was his physical style of play,” wrote Brady about him. “He was a tenacious tackler and one of the game’s greatest bump-and-run defenders. He always wanted to defend the opponent’s best receiver and typically took them out of the game.”
Brady went on to write that Law’s big-game performances are what also make him worthy of Hall of Fame enshrinement. “He always seemed to have his best games on the biggest stage – in the postseason. He played on four Super Bowl teams and helped the Patriots to three championship titles in four years. He was the catalyst to the Patriots’ first Super Bowl victory after intercepting a pass and returning it for an early touchdown in a 20-17 victory.”
The quarterback, who will appear in his sixth Super Bowl since Law left the Patriots after the 2004 season, continued about the defender’s impact on the rule book. “Following that season, the competition committee redefined illegal contact and cracked down on pass interference penalties, changing the way the game has been played for well over a decade. In that way, Ty Law changed the game of football,” wrote Brady. “Few players can claim that type of impact on the game.”
Belichick’s letter about Richard Seymour does not mention any impact on the game of football like Law’s, but it still shows just how well he has played considering who the praise is coming from. “Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork are the two best defensive linemen I have coached,” Belichick wrote. “Richard had a rare combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism. He was a smart player who understood game plans and adjustments on the field.”
“His length, strength and quickness allowed him to match up on any offensive lineman favorably,” New England’s head coach continued before starting to marvel about one of Seymour’s biggest strengths: versatility. “Although primarily a defensive end in our 3-4 defense, Richard also played nose tackle. In the four-man line, Richard could play defensive end or defensive tackle depending on the situation and desired matchups.”
“His physical and mental versatility, as well as his ability to master multiple techniques, made him dominant as an inside or outside player,” wrote Belichick. “As an example of his skills as a complete football player, Richard was a force on field goal blocks for us and, early in his career played on the punt return unit. Richard was effective versus the run and pass from a variety of alignments.”
“It is extremely uncommon to see a player of his size, at any position, be capable of doing so many things so well,” continued the Patriots’ head coach. During his time with the Patriots — from 2001 to 2008 — Seymour’s versatile skillset helped established himself as one of the NFL’s premier defensive lineman and a player capable of impacting defenses on an every-down basis no matter if playing the run or the pass.
Belichick’s biggest praise, however, came in his final statement. “Richard Seymour was unquestionably one of our key players and I do not believe we would have won three championships without him,” he wrote, echoing Brady’s sentiment about Ty Law: “I wholeheartedly consider Ty Law to be among the very best to have ever played the game and worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”