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Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork get Bill Belichick’s vote for Hall of Fame

Richard Seymour (left) and Bill Belichick at practice in 2001.Globe Staff Photo: Barry Chin

Former Patriots defensive tackles Richard Seymour and Vince Wilfork are in Bill Belichick’s personal Hall of Fame, but whether they will be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, is still to be determined.

“In my Hall of Fame, those two guys are there without a doubt,” Belichick said Friday morning.

Seymour and Wilfork are two of the 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022. The 15 finalists will be revealed in January. Seymour has been a semifinalist for the past five years and a finalist for the last two, while Wilfork is a first-time nominee.

Belichick shared the utmost praise for both players, lauding them as the two best defensive linemen he’s ever coached. He called Seymour “impossible to match up against” and Wilfork “impossible to block in the running game.”


When reflecting on Wilfork’s strength and size, Belichick referenced his critical role in the 2011 AFC Championship game against Baltimore.

On a third and 3 late in the fourth quarter, with the ball on New England’s 30-yard line and the Ravens trailing, 23-20, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco handed the ball off to Ray Rice, only for Wilfork to fight through the offensive line and tackle Rice for a loss of 3 yards. The Ravens decided to go for it on fourth and 6, but Wilfork came up big again, getting to Flacco and forcing him to fire an errant pass for an incompletion.

“He really won that game with his fourth-quarter pass rush on Flacco up the middle of the pocket,” said Belichick.

Seymour played eight seasons for Belichick, winning three Super Bowls, and Wilfork played 11, winning two Super Bowls. Both had their fair share of Pro Bowl nods and All-Pro honors, too.

There’s certainly a strong case for the pair to be enshrined — Belichick and Tom Brady penned letters in support of Seymour in January 2020 — but, as Belichick noted, the voting process is rather unpredictable.


“Since there’s no criteria for the Hall of Fame, it’s really hard to even have a conversation about it because it’s not based on anything,” Belichick said. “It’s your opinion of a great player, my opinion of a great player, somebody else’s opinion of a great player. I don’t know what that means.

“Is it how many years they played? Is it All-Pros they had? Is it how many championships they won? Is it individual stats? You can make it whatever you want to make it. If there’s no criteria, you can make a case for everybody.”

Vince Wilfork and Bill Belichick during a playoff game in January 2011.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Belichick said the decisions ultimately come down to personal perspectives.

“With no criteria at all to work with at any position for any player, it’s just what flavor you prefer and what flavor somebody else prefers,” he said.

In his eyes, however, Seymour and Wilfork are certainly Hall of Fame-worthy. As is safety Rodney Harrison, who was left off the list of semifinalists after making the cut last year. Harrison played his final six NFL seasons with the Patriots, winning two Super Bowls.

“Rodney Harrison 100 percent belongs in the conversation,” Belichick said. “I’ve coached safeties that have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, not taking anything away from them, but certainly Rodney Harrison belongs in that conversation, and he certainly belongs in the conversation with other players that are already there.”


Cornerback J.C. Jackson said he “would love to be a New England Patriot for a long time,” but he’s trying not to think about his contract situation.

“I love playing for the New England Patriots, playing under Coach Belichick,” said Jackson, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. “I have grown as a football player since I’ve been here. I’ve learned the game.

“There’s a lot of older guys on this team, so I have picked up a lot of knowledge from these guys who have been in this organization for a long time. I love it here, man.”

Jackson, 26, joined the team as an undrafted rookie out of Maryland in 2018. He has emerged as one of the top cornerbacks in the league, and has stepped up as New England’s No. 1 option this year following the departure of Stephon Gilmore.

In 11 games this season, Jackson has six interceptions, including a pick-6, and 15 passes defensed — both team highs.

“This is a place that brought me in and gave me a chance from Day 1,” he said.

Jackson will likely command a big payday, but he said his mind is strictly on football right now.

“I’m a football player, not an agent, so when it comes to negotiating contracts, I leave that up to my agent,” he said. “I let them deal with that stuff. I just focus on football.”


The Patriots have 10 players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Titans: punter Jake Bailey (right knee), defensive lineman Christian Barmore (knee), Ja’Whaun Bentley (ribs), offensive lineman Trent Brown (calf), kicker Nick Folk (left knee), running back Damien Harris (neck), tight end Hunter Henry (neck), linebacker Dont’a Hightower (ankle), tight end Jonnu Smith (shoulder), and running back Rhamondre Stevenson (knee). Bailey, Bentley, Brown, Folk, Hightower, and Smith were also questionable for last week’s game in Atlanta, but all played … The Patriots signed defensive lineman Niles Scott to their practice squad. The 26-year-old Scott has bounced around multiple practice squads since entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Frostburg State in 2018. He has appeared in six NFL games, logging four tackles.

Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.