The New England Patriots announced Monday that former defensive lineman and former Georgia Bulldog Richard Seymour has been voted by the fans as the 30th inductee into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Seymour joins Troy Brown (2012), Tedy Bruschi (2013), Kevin Faulk (2016), Ty Law (2014), Matt Light (2018) and Willie McGinest (2015), as the seventh player to enter the Patriots Hall of Fame as a three-time Super Bowl champion with the team.
“Richard Seymour laid the foundation for a defense that helped propel the Patriots to three Super Bowl championships in his first four seasons in the NFL,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “Richard was the consummate professional and leader, always accepting the roles he was assigned, putting team goals ahead of personal ones, and in turn, raising the game of everyone around him. Yet as great as he was as a player, he is a Hall of Fame-caliber person, as well. I couldn’t be happier for Richard and the Seymour family, and I am looking forward to celebrating with them as Richard takes his rightful place in the Patriots Hall of Fame and very soon the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.”
The date and time for the 2020 Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be announced at a later date.
Seymour spent the first eight seasons of his 12-year NFL career with the Patriots and played an important role in delivering six division titles, four conference crowns and three Super Bowl championships to New England. He was named to five straight Pro Bowls with the Patriots (2002-06) and earned three straight first-team All-Pro honors (2003-05). His five Pro Bowl berths are the most by any Patriots defensive lineman since the 1970 NFL merger. He was also a four-time team co-captain. In 2009, he was voted to the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team and the 2000s All-Decade Team. Seymour has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the last two years.
Seymour was drafted by the Patriots sixth overall in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft out of Georgia. He immediately established himself as one of the team’s premier players and helped the Patriots win their first Super Bowl during his rookie season. During his time with the Patriots, he anchored a defense that allowed an average of 17.8 points per game and fewer than 20 points per game in six of his eight seasons with New England. Seymour also blocked a franchise record six regular season field goals in his career, plus one in postseason play.
Overall, Seymour started in 105-of-111 games, totaling 460 tackles and 39 sacks. He also recorded two interceptions and six fumble recoveries. Seymour played in 15 postseason games with 13 starts and added 66 total tackles, 4½ sacks and two fumble recoveries. On Oct. 3, 2004, he scored his first career touchdown on a fumble recovery that he returned 68 yards in a 31-17 win at Buffalo. Seymour was traded to Oakland in the summer of 2009, where he played the final four years of his career, producing two additional Pro Bowl seasons.
As a Bulldog Seymour played for head coach Jim Donnan and was a nightmare for opposing offenses. A native of Gadsden, South Carolina, Seymour played a total of 41 games for the Bulldogs, starting 25 of those games. In 1999, Seymour led the Bulldogs with 74 tackles, becoming one of only two defensive linemen in Georgia history to lead the team in tackles for a season. Following his junior season, Seymour was elected as a permanent team captain by his teammates.
Seymour was a two-time All-SEC first-team selection and was named a first team All-American in 2000. He ended his career in Athens with a total of 233 tackles, 26 tackles-for-loss, and 10 sacks. In 2015, he was inducted into the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame and was also named one of the “Legends of SEC Football.”
The three time Super Bowl champion has established the Richard Seymour Family Endowed Scholarship and also made a gift to the Sanford Stadium west end zone project currently under way.
Beginning in 2007, the Patriots started a new tradition, inducting one player or head coach into the team’s hall of fame each year. The process for induction involves a panel of media, alumni and staff who collectively nominate the players or head coaches most deserving of induction. After the nominations are made, the committee votes and the top three tallies become that year’s finalists. The Patriots then give fans the opportunity to vote online to select each year’s hall of fame inductee. The Patriots are the only team in the NFL that allows their fans to make the final selection for enshrinement into the franchise’s highest honor.
Q: What was your reaction this morning when you got the news? What does this honor mean to you in a career that has included three Super Bowl titles and many individual accomplishments?
RS: When I first got the news, obviously it was an opportunity for me to kind of reflect. I thought back to the day I was drafted and my mom and my dad and my family all being there. You just think about all of the hard work that it took just to be drafted. And now, to be considered a Patriots Hall of Famer is a tremendous honor.
Q: What was it about your career early on that allowed you to adapt to what Bill Belichick and his coaching staff were asking? You went from 4-3 early in your career to 3-4. How were you able to make that transition?
RS: I remember when I was being recruited out of Georgia, I remember the scout Lionel Vital. He came to Georgia and he was telling me about the 3-4 defense and he was asking me could I do it. At that point, I didn’t even know what a 3-4 defensive end was, to be honest, but I was like, ‘Yeah, I can do it.’ Obviously, you go back, you look at Coach Belichick and what he’s meant to defense, and to be drafted by him says a lot. So, I just wanted to come in and absorb as much information as I could. I knew I was coming to, at that time, a veteran team. Like I said, I was in really, really good hands with Coach Belichick, with Romeo Crennel and all of the coaches there. I mean, they really made the transition super easy for me.
Q: In the announcement, Robert Kraft said that you laid the foundation for the defense, you were the consummate pro and you put the team goals ahead of your own goals. What did those words mean to you?
RS: For me, like I said, it’s a tremendous honor. I have a picture down in the basement of Mr. Kraft and Jonathan holding up a No. 1 jersey and the stadium in the background was being built at the time, so I think it was very fitting to be laying the foundation. And Coach Belichick, we always talked about building a team that had to be built from the inside out. I was just enthused that they chose me to be a part of trying to change some of the history that was going on. Like I said, this is a tremendous honor and to be a part of the foundation of the Super Bowl run and the dynasty and the championships, you just think – you know, it’s really not for me. You think about so many other people that have helped get you to the point where you are. So, this is just paying respects to them, as well.
Q: When you arrived as a rookie, what kind of expectations did the team have at that time? What was it like to win that first Super Bowl?
RS: Well, coming in in 2001, anytime you have an early draft pick, you’re really going to a team that – we were coming off being 5-11. But one thing Coach Belichick always preached is what happened last year really doesn’t matter, and I think that’s why you have continued success. For us, it was about going out and competing at a high level. Like I said, it was a veteran-laden team. They really taught me the ins and outs and how to take care of my body and doing all the little things to be a true professional. I truly enjoyed playing football and everything that Coach Belichick, Romeo Crennel, Pepper Johnson – it was just a wealth of knowledge that I was coming into. There were no Super Bowl talks at that time. We were just trying to go out and win games and we just strung enough together and before you knew it, we found ourselves in a really good spot and we capitalized on it throughout the playoffs.
Q: In 2004, you had a fumble recovery against Drew Bledsoe and returned it for a touchdown. Can you talk about that moment? Also, how big was this team in 2004 and 2005?
RS: You know, it’s funny. I remember when we went up to Buffalo. That was toward the end of the game. Obviously, being a teammate of Drew’s early – well, early in my career – it’s always fun to go against someone that you played with, just from a competitive standpoint. On that play, I remember [Tedy] Bruschi got the strip-sack and threw the block, and then I had a host of guys leading me into the end zone. Obviously, that was fun. But, we had a very talented group. Obviously, it was a team, so nobody tried to stand out in terms of personal attention, but we had some guys on those teams, like I said, building a team from the front to the back – I think, Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren was there at that time, Jarvis Green. And then you build it from the back with Tedy Bruschi and Roman Phifer, Willie McGinest, [Mike] Vrabel. And then on the back end you had Ty Law and Rodney Harrison and all of the guys. So, it was a group effort and, like I said, I’m just glad I was a part of it.
Q: In the last couple years, how much have you sensed that not being in the Patriots Hall of Fame, despite being a finalist, maybe was a factor in the Pro Football Hall of Fame process? In your opinion, could this honor be an important thing for you to build more momentum for the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
RS: I think it definitely made it difficult because some writers could easily say, ‘We can’t put him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame honestly until he’s in the Patriots Hall of Fame.’ But, I’ll be in now, so we’ll just deal with that. Like I said, it’s a tremendous honor. It wasn’t anything that I ever thought about in terms of why I played, in terms of being a Hall of Famer. I just wanted to go out and compete and earn the respect of my teammates and also the opponents that I played against. That’s really where my mindset was. I might have said it a while ago, but I think it’s a difference between stats and impact – having your impact on the game and imprint of offensive coordinators having to play against you. I think I earned that. I’ve talked to a lot of offensive linemen throughout the years and earned their respect, and I think that goes a long way in not only the Patriots Hall of Fame, but down the road hopefully the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s all a blessing and honor.
Q: When I say the words ‘New England Patriots,’ what goes through your mind?
RS: The team that drafted me. A champion. Doing things the right way. Leadership. It’s an organization that’s built the right way, in my opinion – strong ownership, loyal fan group and a coach that is second to none. It was an honor for me to be drafted there, to be honest. Out of all the places you can go in the National Football League, you want to go where everybody takes it serious. So, that’s some of things that come to my mind when I think about the Patriots.
Q: You’re the seventh player to win three Super Bowls and be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, joining Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi, Kevin Faulk, Ty Law, Matt Light and Willie McGinest. When I say those names, what does it mean to be the seventh player to win three Super Bowls and be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame?
RS: When you say those names, I think about ultimate competitors. Somebody that you knew at the end of the day, all of those guys, from Rodney, Willie, Matt, Kevin Faulk, all of the guys – the attention to detail and hard work that they put in, you knew they were going to be ready. You never wanted to let your teammates down. We all take it very serious, but we had a good time in doing it, as well. We played the game the right way, but we had fun doing it.
Q: What does it mean to you to be voted in by the fans? What does it mean to you to beat out both Bill Parcells and Mike Vrabel in the fan vote?
RS: Well, like I said, at the end of the day, you put your body to work out there and you let that speak for itself. Vrabel is one of my all-time favorite teammates. Coach Parcells, I’ve heard many stories. I wasn’t coached by him, but I heard many stories about the way he was able to motivate his team to get the best out of them. For me, to be honest, just being mentioned among those guys, I know what the level of hard work and dedication that they pour into the game. I feel like they’re definitely worthy, and obviously only one could go in in terms of the fans. It’s a hard thing to do because everyone is deserving. Really, it was this year, next year – we’re several years back. It’s just a hard deal when so many guys have won Super Bowls. They’re all definitely worthy to be in. But, when your number is called, you accept it, and I’m honored to be wearing a red jacket.
Q: Do you think it’s hard for a 3-4 end or a nose tackle, anyone who takes a lot of double teams on the inside and doesn’t get a lot of sack numbers like a defensive end, tackles like a linebacker or interceptions like a defensive back, to get these sorts of post-career honors because you don’t have those statistical milestones?
RS: Well, I look at it, it’s kind of two-fold. At the end of the day, as a competitor, the bottom line for us is about winning. Whatever it took to win, or whatever it takes to win at any cost, that’s what you’re willing to do. If they needed me to play nose guard, which I did, to defensive end or defensive tackle, I was willing to do that. At the end of the day, we had a saying – it wasn’t about the Pro Bowl or the All-Pros that you made. At the end of the day, we wanted to hoist the trophy. So, I will say this, too – in terms of the numbers, you just wanted to be appreciated for what you brought to the table. Coach Belichick, throughout our contract negotiations, he showed that he appreciated what I brought to the table. If all of those things are in line and you’re making an impact on the game and winning, who can complain?
Q: You expressed your respect for Coach Belichick, but you also had tough contract negotiations and he traded you in the end. How would you describe your relationship with him during your career and what is it like now?
RS: Well, Al Davis said he traded for me, so that’s the way I look at it. At the end of the day, like I said, the amount of respect I had for Coach Belichick and still have to this day – there’s a difference between business and your personal life. Personally, it was always a ton of respect. Coach Belichick, he would always send a Christmas gift to the kids and little things like that. In terms of the business side of it, I mean, that’s just the business side of the NFL. We saw that this year with all their guys. So, that’s a part of it. I don’t have any hard feelings or anything like that. That’s just a part of the way the NFL works. So, it may have seemed like it was some tension or something, but in my mind, it’s no hard feelings. We talk and we see each other. He’ll shoot me a text. I was down there when the team was here in Atlanta for the Super Bowl. I was with the team. So, all is well.