During Richard Seymour’s 12-year run as a dominant, game-changing defender, the versatile lineman could be found in multiple spots along the front sevens in New England and Oakland.
Now you can find him in Canton, Ohio.
Seymour received his golden moment Thursday, elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022. Next, he’ll receive a gold jacket and his bronze bust will be unveiled at a summer enshrinement ceremony.
Seymour, who had narrowly missed the cut the last three years as a Hall finalist, headlines a class that includes offensive lineman Tony Boselli, linebacker Sam Mills, defensive back LeRoy Butler, and defensive linemen Bryant Young. Former Raiders receiver Cliff Branch was elected as the senior candidate, Super Bowl winner Dick Vermeil in the coach category, and longtime head of officiating Art McNally as a contributor.
The Patriots’ first-round pick in 2001, Seymour joins fellow Patriots John Hannah, Andre Tippett, Mike Haynes, Ty Law, and Nick Buoniconti in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Seymour played his first eight seasons in New England, where he collected six AFC East titles, four AFC crowns, and three Super Bowls rings. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and earned three straight All-Pro nods from 2003-05. He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2020.
He played his final four seasons in Oakland, where he earned two more Pro Bowl nods.
“I am thrilled that Richard Seymour will forever be recognized as one of the greatest players in the 102-year history of the NFL,” said Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft on the team’s website. “He laid the foundation for a defense that helped propel the Patriots to three Super Bowl championships in his first four seasons in the NFL. 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. Of all the memorable moments I shared with Richard, my favorite was the week I spent with him in Israel. There, I saw how devoted he is, both to his faith and to his family. 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 Canton.”
Seymour was, in Bill Belichick’s opinion, incomparable.
“There’s nobody like Richard Seymour,’’ the coach said during Seymour’s Patriots Hall enshrinement last October. “They just don’t come along. He’s a generational-type player. He always did what the team needed him to do, and it brought us a lot of wins and a lot of championships.’’
Belichick has often referred to Seymour and Vince Wilfork as the best defensive linemen he’s coached.
Though he didn’t amass eye-popping statistics — his career high in sacks was eight — but his ability to tie up multiple blockers on a single play, creating space for his fellow defenders — was really what made Seymour stand out.
Blessed with an extraordinary blend of size, strength, and speed, the 6-foot-6-inch, 320-pound Seymour had the ability to create roadblocks on running lanes while also being able to fire through gaps and terrorize quarterbacks.
Seymour played defensive end in 3-4 looks and defensive tackle in 4-3 schemes and was dominant at both spots. His unique skillset allowed Belichick to implement multiple looks not only from game to game, but from series to series and play to play.
Seymour’s candidacy — he has been a finalist four times — has enjoyed widespread support from Belichick and his former teammates
“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 year. “He was a cornerstone of the Patriots dynasty and deserves to be recognized for his contributions to [football] history.’’
Tedy Bruschi knew from his first practice with Seymour that the kid from Georgia was special.
“Literally from the beginning, he was dominant. And believe me, I know this because I had a hands-on view,’’ Bruschi told the Globe in 2020. “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 the situation, was omnipresent.
“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 fights erupted because Richard was an intimidating force, too. And what I mean by that is, he wasn’t afraid to tell somebody to ‘Meet me at the bus after the game.’ ‘’
Belichick, who has coached some tremendous defensive linemen during his 47 seasons in the NFL, said Seymour is among the best of the best.
“Obviously, you talk about Hall of Fame players, so there’s not a long list of those guys, but I just never really had anybody like that,’’ said Belichick, who wrote a letter to the selection committee supporting Seymour’s candidacy in 2019. “He was very smart. He could do a lot of different things: game plans, pass rush plays, playing certain plays a certain way. That was all pretty easy for him because the game came easy for him in terms of intelligence and anticipation and communication along the line.’’
Belichick called Seymour a key in the franchise’s first three Super Bowl titles who made an immediate impact after arriving as a rookie.
“With guys like Bruschi and [Mike] Vrabel and [Willie] McGinest and those guys, they all communicated very well. Rodney [Harrison], Lawyer [Milloy]. If they saw something, they were able to apply [their skills] quickly and use them to make a play or to take care of a problem that we could identify pre-snap, so those were big-time strengths,’’ he said. “[With Seymour], it was really the whole package, but it jumped out pretty quickly. It didn’t take long to see that this guy was going to really be able to help us.’’
Seymour ended his career with 57.5 sacks, the first 39 of which came with the Patriots. He had 18.5 in his final four seasons with the Raiders.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Seymour’s sack total with the Patriots. He had 39 career sacks with New England.