Hall finalist Richard Seymour hoping for storybook ending to career

Hall finalist Richard Seymour hoping for storybook ending to career

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Story courtesy of Boston Herald

When the Patriots began their unprecedented run of success, when they met the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl that launched the dynasty, Richard Seymour was one of the cornerstones of the defense.

Nineteen years later, the defensive lineman, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time Super Bowl winner, stands as one of the 15 finalists for the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame. Also being considered is Seymour’s teammate, former Patriot cornerback Ty Law, who is a finalist for the second time.

As luck would have it, Seymour, who lives just outside of Atlanta, will be right in his backyard for the announcement of this year’s class, not to mention, this year’s Super Bowl between the Patriots and Rams at the Mercedes Benz SuperDome.

“It would definitely be a storybook ending, given I went to the University of Georgia here, the Super Bowl’s here in Atlanta,” said Seymour, when reached last week. “And with the Patriots playing in the Super Bowl, it definitely sounds like a movie, but, you just never know.”

Seymour, the only defensive lineman on the ballot, is a finalist in his second year of eligibility. If he doesn’t get the call, he’d certainly love it if former teammate Law, who played with him on the early championship teams, gets the nod.

“Ty’s one of the elite players I’ve played with in my career,” said Seymour. “He’s definitely deserving.”

Seymour was a frightening presence in the Patriots 3-4 defense. He was a force during the early Super Bowl run. Playing on the right side for then defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel, he took on double teams and still couldn’t be blocked. He also set up avenues for the linebackers to make plays.

He doesn’t have the gaudy sack numbers as some other defensive lineman in the Hall, but the 6-foot-6, 317-pound tackle was still a dominant and highly disruptive player on the line. Over a 12-year career, he played in 164 games with 157 starts, 57.5 sacks, 91 tackles for loss and 496 total tackles (324 solo). He also recorded 39 passes defensed with two interceptions.

“I always looked at it like, you can still have an extremely dominant game, and not really affect the stat sheet much,” he said. “Trust me, everyone wants stats, and they’re great. I much rather have wins and accomplishments at the end of the day.”

He was a five-time All-Pro and an All-Decade pick for the 2000s. The latter accomplishment is one of the honors Seymour holds highest along with a few others.

“The All-Decade team is one of the the things I’m most proud of because it’s a body of work that you’ve put together,” said Seymour, “That, and being a team captain with the Patriots my second year in the league, and also leaving there, and going to Oakland, and being a team captain all my years out there as well.”

Former Herald columnist Ron Borges, who is a Hall of Fame voter, is presenting both Law and Seymour to the room and stating their case for induction. Others on the ballot include Steve Atwater, Champ Bailey, Tony Boselli, Isaac Bruce, Alan Faneca, Tony Gonzalez, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James, John Lynch, Kevin Mawae and Ed Reed.

A player who wasn’t heavily recruited coming out of high school, Seymour never envisioned being a step away from football immortality.

“I’m extremely honored. (The Hall of Fame) is football heaven. When I started playing football, my mind never even fathomed anything near this,” said Seymour. “To be at the pinnacle, and looking at all the greats and to be mentioned in that conversation, whether it’s this year, or 20 years from now, it’s still an honor just to even be in that conversation among the best to ever play the game at your position.”

The announcement is on Saturday, the day before the Super Bowl. Seymour does have a pair of tickets to the Pats-Rams game, courtesy of the Hall of Fame committee. He might attend and watch his former team, or let his two sons (ages 16 and 11) take in the big game.

While he did finish his career as a Raider after being traded to Oakland in 2009, playing four more seasons out west, Seymour still pays attention to what’s happening in New England. It’s hard not to. The Patriots are hard to avoid. They just keep winning.

“Yeah, they’re still getting it done. That was amazing to go into Kansas City and beat them,” said Seymour. “The smart money definitely had KC winning that game. But that’s how it goes with the Patriots.”

His one takeaway from being a Patriot for eight seasons?

“Leaving no stone unturned. It’s about fundamentals and discipline,” he said. “That’s what I take away. If you want to win, you have to be fundamentally sound, and disciplined. You can take that into any area of life.”

Asked if he felt he’d get into the Hall down the road if he didn’t get in this year, Seymour sounded pretty confident.

“I do feel eventually I’ll get in. But you just never know. It’s a logjam, it’s a process. I don’t even know what they look for, or what they want. I’m just extremely honored that I was able to play the game at such a high level, and be under consideration.”

 Underdog label works for Patriots

CBS analyst Tony Romo, who will be calling the Super Bowl, believes that while most teams aren’t motivated by being the underdog, it works for the Patriots.

“It’s very effective for the Patriots,” Romo said on a conference call Wednesday. “I don’t think it would do much for a lot of teams. But from a coach’s perspective, for a team that’s been there, done that so many times, in some ways it’s silly to think the Patriots should ever be an underdog . . . if you’ve played in eight AFC title games in a row, and Tom’s going into his ninth Super Bowl, it’s just an incredible number. So (being the underdog) is stuff for people who are always looking for fuel. That part of it is real.”

Romo said players are more willing to go all out and lay their bodies on the line when no one thinks they can do it, when there are doubts.

“It frees you up, you just let go of the ball, there’s no pressure, the expectations are lower,” he said. “So, the tangible side of it is minimal for most teams. For the Patriots, it’s a rallying cry. And it got them to really commit every day, every little moment . . . you just stay after it and do more things. For them to feel slighted just added a little bit more.”

“Just make the right call”

It’s not surprising the blown call by the referees in the NFC Division Round game was a hot topic in the lead up to the Pro Bowl.

Referee Bill Vinovich’s crew missed a pass interference call on Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman with 1:45 remaining on third and 10 from the Rams’ 13-yard line. The refs could have also called helmet-to-helmet contact on the play.

The call basically left the Saints at home, and allowed the Rams to advance to play the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

Eagles Pro Bowl safety Malcolm Jenkins told reporters at the NFC’s Pro Bowl practice at Disney’s Wide World of Sports he couldn’t stand watching the replay.

“I mean, it hurts just watching it because you know how much goes into it, how fragile and small the margin for error is to get to that level and all the work you put in to get there and have it blown on something you really can’t control?” Jenkins said via the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s got to be infuriating.”

Jenkins, however, didn’t feel there was a need for instant replay, even though there’s been a huge movement afoot in recent days to make pass interference reviewable.

“No, just make the right call,” Jenkins sad. “It wasn’t that hard. You didn’t need instant replay to figure that out. But I’ve been in trouble for criticizing referees so I’m going to be quiet.”

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