New England Sports 366, #93: Richard Seymour
Let's be clear: Richard Seymour should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler, getting the nod as both a 4-3 defensive tackle and a 3-4 defensive end. He was All-Pro first team three times and second team twice. He was arguably the greatest defensive lineman of the decade, named to the NFL's all-2000s team. He should be in Canton, with a career comparing favorably to other HoF DEs like Doleman, Taylor, Hampton, or Dent.
Picked sixth overall by the Patriots out of Georgia in 2001, Seymour won a Super Bowl ring as a rookie and then collected two more. He'd have had a fourth, and a perfect season, had the officials properly called Eli Manning in his grasp in 2008. He put up 39 sacks in his eight years in New England (adding another 18 in his four Oakland seasons). He effortlessly moved from tackle to end and back, a harder feat than most realize. He stuffed the run, he rushed the passer, and he was a monster on special teams (seven career blocked kicks). This guy was the beast on the edge up front, a key component to one of the great underrated defenses in NFL history.
The early installment of the Patriots dynasty gets short shrift when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration. Ty Law is rightfully in, and Vinatieri will be someday. Tom Brady will never be enshrined because he'll never retire. Belichick of course. Who else from those first three Super Bowls? I would argue that Seymour leads the pack, though I'd include Harrison and McGinest in the conversation (and maybe Wilfork). Seymour was a finalist this past year. Hopefully the voters recognize his generational greatness and he'll make the cut in the years ahead.