Early titles with the Patriots put Seymour in the Hall of Fame

Early titles with the Patriots put Seymour in the Hall of Fame

Hall of Famer Seymour Football (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Hall of Famer Seymour Football (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Richard Seymour won Super Bowls with the New England Patriots before Tom Brady was, as he put it, Tom Brady.

The defenseman’s early success – three championships in his first four seasons – is a good starting point for how Seymour got into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“We have a saying in the Patriots that stats can be for losers,” Seymour said. “I was asked to do selfless things.”

Seymour had 57 1/2 career sacks in 12 seasons, the first eight in New England, before retiring with the Oakland Raiders.

His three All-Pro seasons were two more than any of the other two Hall of Famers categorized as defensive ends and tackles – Chicago’s Dan Hampton and San Francisco’s Bryant Young.

The Patriots actually won on defense when Seymour was a rookie in 2001, the year Brady became the starter. New England became a top-10 defense that year and then hosted the “Greatest Show on Turf” without a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl before beating the St. Louis Rams 20-17 by Adam Vinatieri’s final play field Goal defeated.

New England missed the playoffs in 2002 before winning the next two Super Bowls against Carolina and Philadelphia. Dallas is the only other franchise to have won three Super Bowls in four seasons (1992-95).

Seymour, who is due to be anchored in Canton, Ohio on Saturday, is the second player from the New England defense to be inducted into the Hall of Fame after cornerback Ty Law.

Those three titles were it for Seymour, Law and the rest of this group of New England defensemen, while 44-year-old Brady is at seven and possibly counting, the youngest with Tampa Bay. But Seymour and co. get credit for their part of the foundation.

“These first three Super Bowls were all defensive teams,” Seymour said. “I think for us the change started right after that. And then Brady really became Brady. And then it really started. Offense sells, so I totally get it. But those early teams were led by defense.”

After growing up in South Carolina, Seymour was the sixth overall winner from Georgia in 2001. He played inside and out for the Patriots before spending most of his time playing defensive tackles with the Raiders.

Seymour, who was listed at 300+ pounds in his playing days, fitted the mold of a run stopper rather than a pass rusher. The only form that interested him was winning.

“I think my story is a story of impact because it was selfless and it was about the team and being a competitor,” Seymour said. “The bigger picture for me is as long as the team values ​​what I bring to the table and has shown it in terms of my contracts and things like that. I knew they valued me and they told me they valued me.”

Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel, another anchor on that linebacker defense, saw the value when he joined the Patriots as a free agent the same year Seymour was drafted.

“I was in my fifth year but I really, boy, hadn’t done much in the league. So we started out in the NFL for the first time,” Vrabel said. “All I remember is its size, its length, its strength. This was an intelligent player who could spot things and would say, “Hey, let’s do this.” I said, ‘OK, yeah, that’s a great idea.'”

Smart enough to ignore homework? Seymour thought so when he was a rookie, and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel gave all freshman players something to learn overnight.

Seymour ignored similar duties at Georgia, thinking he could do the same with the pros. Until Crennel visited him the next day.

“He snatched me a new one that day in front of all the other freshmen,” Seymour said. “And I was the first-round guy. So I think he rips me up before all the other draft picks, it really set the tone for everyone in terms of expectations. I kind of realized, ‘OK, I think I’ll have to learn when I get into the league.'”

The misstep didn’t slow Seymour’s rise to leadership at the start of the two-decade-long New England dynasty. He couldn’t give the Raiders the same success after a trade in 2009, but the legacy was enough for a call from Canton.

“He brought an attitude. He brought an attitude,” said Vrabel. “He kept pushing the guys, even as a young player he pushed the guys. He had the ability and confidence enough to push guys who were maybe a sixth or seventh year, and he was maybe a second or third year.”


AP Pro Football Writer Teresa M. Walker contributed.


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