After receiving the red jacket as a New England Patriots Hall of Famer last year, Richard Seymour will soon be able to add a gold one to his collection as well. The former NFL defensive lineman was announced as a Pro Football Hall of Fame selection on Thursday night, becoming the 10th person associated with the Patriots organization to make the cut.
The 42-year-old joins guard John Hannah, linebackers Andre Tippett, Nick Buoniconti and Junior Seau, cornerbacks Mike Haynes and Ty Law, wide receiver Randy Moss, running back Curtis Martin, and coach Bill Parcells. He will be enshrined in Canton, OH, later this year.
Seymour had to wait quite some time for the honor, despite being close: he was a finalist the last three years but eventually unable to make the final cut. Now, he did, and it is not hard to see why the voters finally decided to elevate him to the NFL’s Mount Olympus.
Seymour 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 back in 2020. That alone speaks for how valuable a player he was.
Seymour has the individual accolades
Of the soon-to-be 19 defensive tackles 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 a Hall of Fame 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 all-time players at his position. Add the fact that he also owns five total All-Pro selections and a red Patriots Hall of Fame jacket and you get an impressive résumé.
Seymour also is a member of the NFL’s Team of the 2000s, the Patriots’ Team of the 2000s and the organization’s 50th Anniversary Team. He carved out his spot in franchise and NFL history, and it cannot be denied that he belongs among the greatest players the league has ever seen.
“Next August, we should be celebrating the gold jacket introduction of Richard Seymour,” Belichick said in October. That will indeed happen, and Seymour’s individual accomplishments on top of his team success are a major reason why.
Seymour 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 never had 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 shy of 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.
Seymour had 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 could count on that ever since first becoming eligible. Just take the statements from Bill Belichick above, and what else he had to say about him over the years.
“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 during his Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony last year.
Belichick also wrote a letter in support of Seymour two years ago in which he 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,” Brady’s letter read. “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.”
Also speaking highly of Seymour was a player already in the Hall of Fame — one that will be joined by Seymour later this year (and by Brady in five): 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 who was worthy of making the Hall of Fame even when he only reached the final round three straight years.
Seymour had the timing
Following his unsuccessful Hall of Fame campaign last year, Seymour took to social media to share a very true message as far as the process is concerned: timing is everything.
Going up against fellow NFL legends such as Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson and Charles Woodson, Seymour was in a difficult situation. His résumé obviously has not changed since February 2021 — although he was enshrined into the Patriots Hall of Fame since then — it looked much more favorable compared to this year’s group of finalists.
Including two former Patriots offseason members — Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne — the finalists voters had to chose from this year looked as follows:
DL Richard Seymour, DE Jared Allen, OT Willie Anderson, S Ronde Barber, OT Tony Boselli, S LeRoy Butler, KR Devin Hester, WR Torry Holt, WR Andre Johnson, LB Sam Mills, LB Zach Thomas, DE DeMarcus Ware, WR Reggie Wayne, LB Patrick Willis, DT Bryant Young
Out of those players, Boselli, Butler, Mills and Young were picked for Hall of Fame induction. Former NFL wide receiver Cliff Branch, coach Dick Vermeil, and referee Art McNally were also chosen by the voters.
While all of them are worthy of induction, this year’s class lacks the big names of 2021’s, for example. The stars therefore certainly aligned for Seymour to finally take that next step.