The Patriots are putting on a full-court press on behalf of Richard Seymour’s candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and Andre Tippett have written letters of recommendation on behalf of Seymour.
Seymour, who is in his second straight year as a finalist, will learn his fate Saturday when the selection committee meets, with the announcement of the Class of 2020 following. But if the words from titans such as Belichick, Brady, and Tippett mean anything, Seymour has to feel pretty good about his chances.
Even though the two had an occasionally contentious relationship, Belichick wrote in support of Seymour’s candidacy for a second straight year, and the Patriots’ coach was effusive in his praise, calling Seymour and Vince Wilfork the two best defensive linemen he’s ever coached.
“Richard Seymour was unquestionably one of our key players,” wrote Belichick, “and I do not believe we would have won three championships without him.”
In his 12-year career, Seymour had 57.5 sacks, 39 of which came in his eight seasons with the Patriots. A three-time All-Pro, he reached the Pro Bowl seven times.
For many defensive linemen who might be considered candidates for the Hall of Fame, his sack numbers would seem low. But in what might be construed as an attempt to reach voters who didn’t watch Seymour play on a regular basis — and only go by his stats — Belichick hints if you want to measure Seymour’s contributions, you look beyond the numbers.
“Richard had a rare combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism,” wrote Belichick. “He was a smart player who understood game plans and adjustments on the field.
“His length, strength and quickness allowed him to match up on any offensive lineman favorably. Although primarily a defensive end in our 3-4 defense, Richard also played nose tackle. In the four-man line, Richard could play defensive end or defensive tackle depending on the situation and desired matchups.”
Brady – who wrote a similar letter to committee members in 2017 advocating to induct Jason Taylor (they did) — said Seymour was a “menace” to face in practice every day. He echoed Belichick’s sentiment.
“He had the size and speed to play on the outside on the defensive line, but the strength and quickness to play inside, too,” wrote Brady. “You simply aren’t going to find many 6-6 players who can line up on the nose and still dominate the line of scrimmage. That type of flexibility allowed our coaches to transition from a 3-4 to a 4-3, often times with similar personnel, allowing us to disguise our looks and create matchup problems for our opponents.
“His speed and athleticism were on full display when he returned a fumble 68 yards for a touchdown. And his leadership as a player who put the team first was always a constant. Not only did he accept the selfless role and responsibilities in a two-gap defense, but he was eager and willing to contribute on special teams and even as a fullback in our goal-line offense. In my 20-year career, I’ve never seen an All-Pro volunteer for those roles as eagerly as Richard did. He was the epitome of a team-first player.”
Tippett, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008, also hammered home the point that Seymour’s worth went beyond the numbers.
“Richard’s greatness isn’t in the numbers or the scheme; it was his ability to do whatever was asked of him,” Tippett said. “He had the ability to rush from the outside. He was big, agile and could eat up the inside run. He had the athletic ability to take on the double team. Those attributes don’t show up on the stat sheet at the end of the game, but they contribute heavily to the most important statistic — winning.”