Speaking not only for myself, but for anyone who cares about living in a world of true justice, where greatness is appreciated and merit is rewarded, let me echo Mr. Kraft's sentiments when he heard direct from Richard Seymour that Seymour is the newest player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I've been supporting Seymour's candidacy since he became eligible. Granted, because he was a cornerstone of the Patriot first three Super Bowl titles. But in a broader sense, because I care about football in general. And fairness.
Players like Seymour don't often get recognized. Not by Canton anyway. Historically the voters have demonstrated a blatant bias against defensive players in general, interior defensive linemen in particular, and interior defensive lineman without high sack totals specifically. And the numbers bear that out.
Right now there are 191 offensive players in Canton. To just 105 defensive players. That's almost a 2-to-1 margin. The kind of discrimination that would end up in federal court if only defenders could be recognized as a marginalized group. (Which they seem to be if you've watched the way penalties get called over the last dozen years or so.) And among the 38 inductees categorized as defensive linemen, the majority are ends or hybrid DE/DTs. On the Hall's website, I count just 11 full time defensive tackles. And they tend to be in the mold of Mean Joe Greene or Warren Sapp, gap-penetrators with high sack totals (at least during the years where that stat has been kept). In Seymour's 12 year career, he finished with just 57.5 sacks, which is not only tied for 151st all time, it's fewer than Joey Bosa already has in just half as many seasons.
None of which is to put Seymour down. I point this out because the Hall voters deserve praise for breaking away from their pro-sack biases, thinking beyond the conventional wisdom, and for recognizing how great Seymour's game was. And how deserving of induction. He was the prototype of the dominant, 2-gap, 5-tech, space-eating run-stuffing tackles in Belichick's 3-4 fronts of the time. He required constant double teams, which allowed everyone else to flow to the ball and make the stats page. He perfected the role.
Here's what I wrote when Seymour first became eligible:
Richard Seymour is my landslide, mortal lock, no contest, unanimous, motion-carried-on-a-voice-vote winner, by acclimation. It's the no-brainiest of no brainers.
Consider this: Seymour is on the NFL's All Decade Team for the 2000s. Not only should that make him automatic for the team Hall, it should put him in Canton. Yet inexplicably, he's the only eligible defensive player on the All 2000s team to not get in yet. And the others, Charles Woodson (Class of 2021) and Dwight Freeney (2023) might as well start posing for the sculptor now. In fact, the only two offensive members of the team who haven't been inducted yet are Lorenzo Neal, because he's a fullback, and Tom Brady, for obvious reasons. When you were the best defensive tackle in the league for 10 years, whether you belong in any Hall of Fame is not even a conversation starter.
Add to that, these accomplishments. Seymour:
- Was named a starter on the franchise's 50th Anniversary
- Made five straight Pro Bowls, from 2002-06
- Was named first team All Pro three straight years, 2003-05
- Voted captain by his teammates four times
- Blocked a franchise record six field goals and another in the postseason
- In the Snow Bowl, with Oakland facing a 3rd & 1 near midfield and the Pats down to one timeout, he made this game-savinng stop on Zach Crockett to force a punt that led to the Tuck Rule and the eventual tying field goal.
Now he's in. And this troubled world is a slightly better place.
This means that the first three Patriots championships - Dynasty 1.0 if you will - has produced three Hall of Famers. Seymour, Ty Law and Tom Brady, assuming he ever does retire. Which feels about right. A case can be made for Rodney Harrison, perhaps, but with all respect, he's not the candidate these three are. And in a way, I like the fact that a team that won three times in four years isn't going to flood the Hall the way all the other multiple winners of the past have. It underscores that the team that took the field in Super Bowl XXXVI as 14-point underdogs to the Greatest Show on Turf Rams demanding to be introduced as a team, were exactly that. They weren't carried to a ring by a core of elite players surrounded by scrubs. They had a veteran HoF cornerback, a first year starter at QB and a rookie 5-technique tackle among a roster of very good players, coming together to lay the foundation of the best Dynasty in the history of their sport.
And for Bill Belichick, Seymour's induction is a validation for what he can accomplish in the draft on the rare occasions he's not selecting at the back end of the first. Seymour is his only pick in the single digits, 6th overall. His only other selection in the Top 10 was Jerod Mayo. His only other pick in the first half of the first round was Mac Jones. Not a bad track record.
On that note, I'd be derelict in my duty as an enemy of the Boston media state if I didn't use this auspicious occasion to remind you what Ron Borges of the Globe said about the selection of Seymour the day after it was made in 2001. The oldest of old takes exposed from Ol' Ronnie Crtl+C:
If you didn't know better, you'd think the Jets sent Bill Belichick north to destroy the Patriots from within.
On a day when they could have had impact players David Terrell or Koren Robinson or the second-best tackle in the draft in Kenyatta Walker, they took Georgia defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who had 1 sack last season in the pass-happy SEC and is too tall to play tackle at 6-6 and too slow to play defensive end.
I never get tired of that.
Congrats, Hall of Famer. This man is going to look good in gold: