The New England Patriots held their eighth practice of this year’s training camp on Friday night, moving operations inside Gillette Stadium — the same arena that Richard Seymour called his home from 2002 to 2008. Seymour, of course, was a standout defensive lineman for the Patriots who will get enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
A first-round draft pick by New England in 2001, a year before Gillette Stadium was opened, Seymour was a cornerstone of the team’s first dynastic run. He helped bring three Super Bowls to the organization, appeared in a combined 126 regular season and playoff games, and was later named to the Patriots’ Team of the 2000s and Hall of Fame.
Seymour left the team via trade in 2009, but he still has close ties to it. Whether it comes to semi-regular returns — most recently to receive his red Patriots Hall of Fame jacket last October — or due to the status he still enjoys.
Even after all these years, after all, Seymour is still an inspiration to the club and its players. Just ask current defensive lineman Lawrence Guy, who spoke about the 42-year-old following that Friday night practice inside Gillette Stadium.
“He’s a true inspiration to all of us,” Guy said about Seymour. “What he gave to the game, what he did on the field, what he did off the field, the aggression that he brought there, it’s something that you just want to watch. Old film of him, you’re like, ‘Hey man, I wonder if I can still do something like that?’ and you realize what part of the league he is.
“It’s always great to see his film up there, and to see the plays that he’s been able to make. He was one of those athletes. You can’t just repeat that type of human.”
Guy was not the only one to talk about Seymour on Friday. Head coach Bill Belichick, who drafted Seymour sixth overall in 2001, spoke with NFL Network’s Scott Pioli before the practice and sang his praises as well.
“We’re very proud of Richard and what he did for the Patriots,” Belichick told Pioli, who was part of New England’s front office when Seymour was drafted.
“First-round draft choice, came in and helped us go to the Super Bowl in 2001. As we know, he played very unselfishly. He played nose tackle, he was a natural defensive end and 3-technique. Played out of position that first year and really helped us on things like field goal block and punt return and things like that where he just did extra — he was playing fullback on offense and so forth.”
Seymour’s career has been a highly successful and influential one. On Saturday, nine years after his retirement, he will be able to write another chapter.