Even though he has to continue to wait for a gold jacket, Richard Seymour can now finally call himself a Hall of Famer. After all, he was inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame on Saturday, receiving the famous red jacket in a ceremony at Gillette Stadium.
Seymour making into into The Hall at one point seemed inevitable. While he did not make the cut in his first year of eligibility — in fact he had to wait until Year 5 — he eventually was voted in by fans last year. The ceremony had to be postponed until this October, but the 42-year-old is now finally where he belongs: among the greatest players in Patriots history.
His accomplishments speak for themselves.
A first-round draft pick in 2001, Seymour spent the first eight seasons of his 12-year career in New England and appeared in a combined 126 regular season and playoff games for the franchise. Before getting traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2009, he played a key role in New England’s first three Super Bowl-winning runs, was voted to five Pro Bowls while with the team, and was named to the NFL’s Team of the 2000s.
But what exactly made Seymour a Hall of Fame-caliber player? His former head coach had an easy answer: “Everything.”
Speaking to reporters this week, Bill Belichick praised Seymour for his athleticism, intelligence, and versatility.
“Richard was a tremendous player. He had a tremendous skill set. He had great length. Explosive. Very quick for his size. He could do everything,” Belichick said.
“He started his career at the nose, which was not really his best position, but he could play it for sure, and we needed him there in ‘01. Then we moved him back to his natural position of 5 and 3-technique. He played some on the nose in passing situations, but he was really more of a defensive end than a nose tackle, but he played there because we needed him, and then after we got Ted [Washington] and [Keith] Traylor and Vince [Wilfork], then he ended up outside.”
Despite playing a comparatively unheralded role, Seymour made his fair share of big plays for the Patriots. Whether it was 43.5 career sacks for the team or a franchise record seven blocked kicks.
“It was a tough matchup for the interior linemen,” Belichick said. “He could win with speed, and against some of the quicker guys, he could win with power. Smart player. Richard was very smart and had good awareness. He was a good situational player and certainly helped our linebackers a lot because he was either able to get penetration or able to draw blockers and tie up blockers that couldn’t get to the second level on some of our off-the-ball players.
“He was a very disruptive force. Good in the kicking game. Played in the punt return and had some big plays for us. Going back to ‘01, like Troy’s [Brown] punt return against Cleveland. He had a huge block on that. He was an excellent field goal blocker. He had a lot of roles. He played in a lot of different situations. We won a lot of games with him. He was a great player.”
A three-time world champion and now member of the Patriots Hall of Fame, one box still remains unchecked for Seymour, though: he has yet to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame despite being a three-time finalist.
Nonetheless, Belichick seems confident in his ability to make the cut soon.
“He certainly deserves to be in the Patriots Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame. Hopefully, that’ll be coming shortly for him as well,” Belichick said during the week.
On Saturday, he echoed those remarks during a surprise appearance at the induction ceremony.
“Next August, we should be celebrating the gold jacket introduction of Richard Seymour.”