On Monday, the New England Patriots announced the winner of their 2020 Hall of Fame vote: Richard Seymour edged out fellow finalists Mike Vrabel and Bill Parcells and will now become the 30th man to receive the famous red jacket and be enshrined into The Hall. The 40-year-old clearing that last hurdle is not surprising considering that he has made the final round every year since 2016 before ultimately coming up short each time.
Not in 2020, however. The other finalists’ most recent memories in New England — Vrabel beating the Patriots in the playoffs in January, Parcells leaving the team to join the New York Jets after Super Bowl 31 — may have played a role in the outcome, but Seymour’s performances and high-level play between his arrival in 2001 and departure via trade in 2009 are the biggest reason for him receiving a majority of the fans’ votes.
After all, he was as big a part of New England’s defense in the early 2000s as any player: the former first-round draft pick was dominant against both the run and the pass, and a versatile defender capable of playing quality football no matter where he played on the interior defensive line. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who coached Seymour throughout his career with the team, also noted his impact in a statement released by the club.
“Richard was a rare physical and athletic talent who possesses excellent intelligence,” Belichick said about the newest Patriots Hall of Famer. “He was more than most any offensive player could handle and this enabled us to benefit as a defense in many ways. Richard came into the league as a mature, humble, high character person and quickly became one of the cornerstone players in the early stages of this program.”
“We would not have won three championships in four years without him. I am thrilled he has been recognized as one of the franchise’s all-time greats,” added Belichick about a player who became a top-level defender immediately after joining New England as the sixth overall selection in the draft. Through the years that followed, he only added to his résumé: Seymour was named to five Pro Bowls and later the Patriots’ 50th anniversary team.
Most importantly, however, he helped the team win its first three Super Bowls to cap the 2001, 2003 and 2004 seasons — something Seymour himself also mentioned during a conference call with the New England shortly after receiving the news: “To be a part of the foundation of the Super Bowl run and the dynasty and the championships, you just think, ‘You know, it’s really not for me.’ You think about so many other people that have helped get you to the point where you are. So, this is just paying respects to them, as well.”