lLater today, the Pro Football Hall of Fame electorate will get together to decide who will get one of the famed golden jackets this year and be enshrined into the NFL’s harrowed halls. This honor has been an elusive one for Richard Seymour so far, but he does have another chance: for the third straight year, Seymour is on the ballot as a finalist.
The New England Patriots great and former Raider faces some impressive competition for one of the up to five spots in the 2021 Hall of Fame class. Led by one of the league’s best ever quarterbacks, Peyton Manning, the list of finalists also features Calvin Johnson, Charles Woodson, Jared Allen, Sam Mills, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Zach Thomas, Reggie Wayne, Torry Holt, Leroy Butler, Clay Matthews Jr, Alan Faneca and Tony Boselli.
That said, Seymour still deserves to make it into the Hall of Fame after all. Why? Glad you asked.
He helped build a dynasty
Seymour joined the Patriots as a first-round draft pick in 2001, and immediately made an impact: he appeared in 16 of a possible 19 games as a rookie and helped the organization win its first ever Super Bowl. He again played a prominent role on New England’s defense in 2003 and 2004, when the team added two more championships — all while Seymour was growing into one of the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL.
He may not have had the impressive stats some of his teammates or other defensive tackles around the league posted, but he helped build the Patriots dynasty as we know it today: Seymour was a difference maker both and and off the field, and as such set an example for the next generation of players that would follow and carry New England’s unprecedented run of success into its second decade.
“We would not have won three championships in four years without him,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said about Seymour last year. That alone speaks for how valuable a player he was.
He has the individual accolades
Of the 18 defensive tackles currently in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, only one (Joe Greene) has won more Super Bowls in his career than Seymour’s three. Likewise, only eight have made more than his seven Pro Bowls.
While those accolades alone do not make an NFL player, they show that Seymour’s individual accomplishments as a member of the Patriots and the Raiders certainly hold their own when compared to other Hall of Fame players at his position. They are not the only ones making a strong case for the 41-year-old, given that there are also five total All-Pro selections and membership of a Patriots Hall of Fame jacket.
The best argument in favor of Seymour, however, comes via his inclusion into the NFL’s Team of the 2000s. He was named a first-team member of the league’s all-decade squad back then, and is therefore one of the few men on such teams that are eligible for the Hall of Fame but not yet in:
Richard Seymour should be in the Hall.— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) January 19, 2021
Eligible Off/Def 1st Team All Decade -not- in the Hall (post-merger, excl. FB):
1970s: WR Drew Pearson
1980s: All are in
1990s: S LeRoy Butler
2000s: G Alan Faneca, CB Charles Woodson, DE Richard Seymour
All are finalists this year.
Seymour also is a member of the Patriots’ Team of the 2000s and 50th Anniversary Team. He has carved out his spot in franchise history, and it cannot be denied that he also belongs to the greatest players the league as a whole has ever seen. His individual accomplishments are proof of that.
He played at a high level throughout his career
Before former Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017, there was a debate whether or not he should make it given that he had only four seasons of elite production and gained only 1,194 rushing yards combined over the final three years of his seven-year career. Davis did eventually make it in, because his highs were high enough for consideration.
When it comes to Richard Seymour, voters do not have to make a decision like that: he played at a high level throughout his 12 years in the league. Seymour was a disruptive interior defender for the Patriots teams of the 2000s — including three Super Bowl winners (2001, 2003, 2004) and the only 16-0 team in league history (2007) — and later continued to play some quality football after getting traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2009.
Just look at it from this perspective: when the Patriots traded Seymour before his ninth season in the league and just a month before his 30th birthday, he still yielded them a first-round draft pick the following year. The Raiders knew he was still good, and he proved it by making the Pro Bowl in two of his four seasons with the club.
He has the support of other (future) Hall of Famers
The NFL is often described as a brotherhood, and recognition by other greats as well as respect by one’s peers is a central aspect when it comes to Hall of Fame candidacy. As for Seymour, he can count on that. Just take the statement from Bill Belichick above, and what else he had to say about him last year.
“Richard was a rare physical and athletic talent who possesses excellent intelligence,” Belichick said after Seymour was voted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. “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.”
Belichick also wrote a letter in support of Seymour last year in which he also praised his “physical and mental versatility, as well as his ability to master multiple techniques.”
Also in 2020, Tom Brady wrote a letter to the Hall of Fame voters about his long-time teammate. The sentiment was the same as Belichick’s.
“Coach Belichick stresses the importance of playing complementary football, and no one had a greater impact on what we could do defensively than Richard. He was a selfless player who accepted the roles he was assigned, knowing the impact it would have on the entire defense. As a result, he made everyone better. I know facing those defenses in practice early in my career challenged me daily and helped me develop as a player,” Brady’s letter read.
Also speaking highly of Seymour was a player already in the Hall of Fame (one that will be joined by Belichick and Brady on the first opportunity after their respective retirements): Andre Tippett.
“I saw Richard rise in big moments, as well as sacrifice his personal goals so others around him could make contributions,” Tippett wrote. “Richard in my opinion was truly a difference maker. He had the power and explosiveness, as well as the quickness, to cause quarterbacks to worry, which is evident in his 57.5 sacks. But Richard’s greatness isn’t in the numbers or the scheme; it was his ability to do whatever was asked of him.”
Add it all up, and you get a player worthy of making the Hall of Fame. It may not be this year, given the competition, but it will have to happen at one point.
Richard Seymour deserves to get that elusive gold jacket.