TAMPA — Richard Seymour will need to wait at least one more year to get his gold jacket.
Seymour was bypassed for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, the third straight year the former dominant Patriots defensive lineman narrowly missed earning the honor after being named a finalist.
Seymour was the victim of a particularly loaded group of candidates in this year’s class of eight inductees, headlined by Peyton Manning, the former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback who was among three first-ballot selections.
“Timing is everything,” Seymour tweeted late Saturday night.
The members of the Class of 2021 also included:
Charles Woodson, a first-ballot inductee and Heisman Trophy winner who spent 18 seasons prowling defensive backfields for the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers; Calvin Johnson, another first-ballot selection who came to be known as “Megatron” in nine seasons as a receiver with the Detroit Lions, where he made 731 catches for 11,169 yards and 83 touchdowns before his premature retirement at age 30 in 2015; legendary Dallas Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson, who combined with Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach to cement their legacy on the original Hail Mary touchdown in an 1975 NFC divisional game vs. the Minnesota Vikings; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive guard Alan Faneca, a durable nine-time Pro Bowler who in 10 seasons with the Steelers, two with the Jets, and one more in Arizona, missed a grand total of one game; John Lynch, a hard-hitting safety who won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and went on to become general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, former Raiders head coach Tom Flores, the first Hispanic coach in the NFL; and longtime Steelers scout Bill Nunn.
Selected by the Patriots in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2001 NFL Draft out of the University of Georgia, Seymour, 41, played his first eight seasons in New England, where he collected three Super Bowls rings and earned three All-Pro nods. He was traded in 2011 to the Oakland Raiders for a first-round pick (Nate Solder, 17th overall), where he played out the final four seasons of his 12-year NFL career.
Coach Bill Belichick has often referred to Seymour and Vince Wilfork as the best defensive linemen he’s coached. (Wilfork will be a first-time eligible for the Hall next year.)
Seymour didn’t put up gaudy statistical numbers — his season high in sacks was eight — but his ability to take on and tie up multiple blockers on a single play was really what made him stand out.
Blessed with a superior combination of size, strength, and speed, the 6-foot-6-inch, 320-pound Seymour had the ability to force detours on running lanes while also being able to fire through gaps and apply pressure on the quarterback.
Seymour played defensive end in 3-4 looks and defensive tackle in 4-3 schemes and was equally proficient and dominant at both spots. His unique skill set allowed New England to flash multiple looks not only from game to game or series to series but from play to play.
Seymour’s candidacy enjoyed widespread support from former teammates and Hall of Famers.
“I would love to see Richard Seymour inducted into the NFL HOF. Not only was he a dominant player but a team-first, selfless player who played championship [football] each and every [week],” Tom Brady tweeted last month. “He was cornerstone of the Patriots dynasty and deserves to be recognized for his contributions to [football] history.’'
Tedy Bruschi called Seymour “the absolute best” in response to Brady’s tweet.
“Literally from the beginning, he was dominant. And believe me, I know this because I had hands on view,’' Bruschi said before last year’s announcement. “I played behind him and so I saw those offensive alignments, and just the destruction that he would create. And I would literally be smiling how easy my job was, because of playing behind him.’'
Bruschi said Seymour’s intensity, regardless of whether it was routine practice or the Super Bowl, always shined through.
“The way that he would even battle guys like Logan Mankins in practice. I mean you talk about clash of the titans,’' said Bruschi. “I mean big human beings going at it, and the fights erupted because Richard was an intimidating force, too. And what I mean by that is, he wasn’t afraid to tell somebody ‘Meet me at the bus after the game.’ ’'
Seymour ended his career with 57½ sacks, the first 38 of which came with the Patriots. He had another 18.5 in his final four season with the Raiders.
In a letter to the selection committee obtained by ESPN in 2019, Belichick gave Seymour glowing praise, writing, in part, “Richard Seymour was unquestionably one of our key players and I do not believe we would have won three championships without him.’'
Packers QB Rodgers wins MVP
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers won the NFL MVP award for the third time.
Rodgers had perhaps the best season of his 16-year career, leading Green Bay to a 13-3 regular season, the NFC’s best mark. Just a few months after questions arose about his comfort level with the Packers — and their choosing a quarterback in the first round of April’s draft — Rodgers, who turned 37 in December, tore up the NFL.
Rodgers topped the league with 48 touchdown passes, a completion rate of 70.7 percent, and a 121.5 passer rating. He was picked off just five times.
“It is really special to have won it in my fourth year as a starter and now to win it in my 13th year as a starter in a new offense is pretty amazing and something I am very proud of,” Rodgers said, “To have sustained success and be able to play your best football at 37 in my 16th season is something I take a lot of pride in.”
Rodgers received 44 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 voters who regularly cover the NFL, followed by Buffalo’s Josh Allen with four, and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, the 2018 MVP, with two.
The other NFL awards winners, as chosen by the Associated Press, included: Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski (Coach of the Year), Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (Offensive Player of the Year), Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (Defensive Player of the Year), Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith (Comeback Player of the Year), Washington Football Team defensive end Chase Young (Defensive Rookie of the Year), Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (Offensive Rookie of the Year), and Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll (Assistant Coach of the Year).
Wilson named Payton Man of the Year
Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson was named Walter Payton Man of the Year.
The honor recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field and it was established in 1970. It was renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton.
Safety Devin McCourty was the Patriots representative for the honor.