Richard Seymour won the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots, and as he said, Tom Brady is Tom Brady.
The defensive lineman’s early success — three championships in his first four seasons — is a great starting point for how Seymour ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“We have an argument for the Patriots that stats can be a loser,” Seymour said. “I was asked to do selfless things.”
Seymour had 57 1/2 career sacks in 12 seasons, his first eight in New England, before ending his career with the Oakland Raiders.
His three all-professional seasons are two more each than two other Hall of Famers classified as defensive ends and tackles — Chicago’s Dan Hampton and San Francisco’s Bryant Young.
The Patriots did win on defense in 2001, when Seymour was a rookie, and Brady became the starter that year. New England had a top-10 defense that year, then put on “greatest performance on the lawn” without a touchdown, going into the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl, and then smashed in Adam Vinatiri’s The final goal was scored in a 20-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams.
New England missed the playoffs in 2002 before beating Carolina and Philadelphia to win the next two Super Bowls. Dallas is the only team to win three Super Bowls in four seasons (1992-95).
Seymour, who will be enshrined Saturday in Canton, Ohio, is the second player after cornerback Ty Law to break away from a New England defense to enter the Hall of Fame.
The three titles are for Seymour, Law and other New England linebackers, while Brady, 44, is seven years old and probably counting, most recently in Tampa Bay. But Seymour and company are credited for their contributions to the foundation.
“The first three Super Bowls, they were defense-led teams,” Seymour said. “I think for us the transition really started to happen after that. That’s when Brady really became Brady. Then it really took off. Offensive sales, so I totally get it. But those The early teams were led by the defense.”
Having grown up in South Carolina, Seymour was drafted by Georgia with the sixth overall pick in 2001, and he played in and out of the Patriots before spending most of his time as a defensive tackle with the Raiders.
In his playing days, he weighed more than 300 pounds, making Seymour a better base runner than a pass rusher. The only mode he cares about is winning.
“I think my story is an impact story because it’s selfless, it’s about the team and being a competitor,” Seymour said. “The bigger picture for me is as long as the team values what I bring, and they’re going to show it in terms of my contract and stuff like that. I know they value me and they tell me they value me.”
Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel, another staple at linebacker, saw value when he joined the Patriots as a free agent the same year Seymour was drafted.
“I’m in my fifth year, but I really, boy, haven’t done a lot in the league. So we’re starting with the NFL for the first time,” Frabell said. “I just remember his size, length and strength. This is a smart player who can recognize things and say, ‘Hey, let’s do this. I’m like, ‘Okay, yeah, that’s a good idea.’ “
Smart enough to ignore homework? That’s what Seymour thought when he was a rookie and defensive coordinator, and Romeo Crennel gave all the first-year players something to study all night.
Seymour ignored a similar assignment in Georgia and thought he could do the same in the pros. It wasn’t until Krennell visited him the next day.
“He gave me a new one that day in front of all the other rookies,” Seymour said. “And I was a first-rounder. So I think he ripped me up in front of all the other picks, which really set the tone for everyone’s expectations. I kind of realized, ‘Okay, I think when I get into the league I have to learn.'”
The blunder didn’t slow Seymour’s path to becoming a leader at the start of New England’s two-decade-long dynasty. He couldn’t bring the same success to the Raiders after the 2009 trade, but the legacy was enough to make Canton call.
“He brought a demeanor. He brought an attitude,” Vrabel said. “He continues to push players, even as a young player, he pushes players. He has enough quality and confidence to push guys who might be in their sixth or seventh year, he might be in his second or third year. “
AP Pro Football writer Teresa M. Walker contributed.
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