CANTON, Ohio – There’s a new Georgia Bulldog on the hallowed grounds of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Richard Seymour, who played at the University of Georgia and was selected sixth overall by the New England Patriots in the 2001 NFL draft, became the fifth Bulldog enshrined.

“I am overwhelmed today with humility,” Seymour said early in his induction speech Saturday. “Not because of what this moment says about me, but what this moment says about ‘we’ and what we can do together. I’m overwhelmed today with gratitude because I didn’t get here alone. None of us did.”

Joining Seymour in the class of 2022 were defensive tackle and former Falcons assistant coach Bryant Young, safety LeRoy Butler, offensive tackle Tony Boselli, linebacker Sam Mills, wide receiver Cliff Branch, coach Dick Vermeil and longtime director of officiating Art McNally.

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Seymour went on to become a seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro over a spectacular 13-year career.

Seymour joined Charley Trippi, Fran Tarkenton, Terrell Davis, and Champ Bailey as former Georgia Bulldogs in the Hall of Fame.

“Because of my family I was well-positioned for success at the University of Georgia,” Seymour said. “The national-championship Bulldogs, I might add. We got any Dawgs in the house?”

There were a smattering of barks from the crowd.

“I thought so,” Seymour said.

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Seymour, who played out of position at nose tackle as a rookie, was a key cog in the Patriots defense for eight seasons (2001-08). After being traded, he played four seasons with the Raiders (2009-13).

Seymour was presented by his former Lower Richland High School principal Titus Duren, who originally wanted Seymour to attend Clemson.

Seymour played 164 NFL games, made 498 tackles and had 57.5 sacks. He excelled at wrecking offensive lines, while others had free lanes to pile up stats.

Seymour credited his parents with his upbringing.

“The tough love, but also the nurturing side,” Seymour said. “I just think it made me a well-rounded person so I could relate to everybody. I just think it just helped me naturally become a leader. I have to credit my parents, just in terms of the balance that they gave me growing up.”

Seymour did a lot of the dirty work for the Patriots.

“We had a saying with the Patriots that stats can be for losers,” Seymour said. “Like hey, this is what I’ve done, right? But it’s a team sport. So, you want to win, and I think for me, like I was asked to do selfless things wherever I had to two-gap or whatever we needed to do.”

Seymour noted that he played nose tackle as a rookie to help the overall scheme of the defense.

“My story is the story of impact because it was selfless,” Seymour said. “It was about the team and being a competitor.”

Seymour helped the Patriots become only the second team to win three Super Bowls in four seasons.

“Played multiple positions along the defensive line,” Seymour said. “It’s about the body of work and not just one game or one play, right. It’s about being consistent over a course of a career. I just think for me at the end of the day, my coaches and team valued me.”

He credited New England coach Bill Belichick with part of success.

“Coach, you are the best coach in the game,” Seymour said. “The lessons I learned from you set me up for success not just in the game, but in life overall. Meticulous preparation. Support your teammates. Respect your opponents and put the team first. Coach, thank you for everything you taught me.”

After a stellar college career at Notre Dame, Young was selected seventh in the 1994 NFL draft. He went on to anchor the 49ers’ defensive line until the 2007 season.

He formed a bond with Dan Quinn, who was a defensive coach from 2001-04 with the 49ers. They would coach together at Florida from 2011-12, and Quinn added Young to his staff with the Falcons from 2017-19.

“Position coaches Dwayne Board and Dan Quinn were honest, fair and supported me in good times and bad,” Young said.

Young was a first-team All-Pro selection once and was selected second-team All-Pro three times. He was selected to four Pro Bowls. Young played in 208 regular-season games and 11 playoff games. He had 92.5 sacks and 650 tackles, overall.

“There were lot of people that have been a part of this and what an incredible gift just to be able to represent all those people that have been part of this cool journey,” Young said. “It’s still sinking in. There are levels to it, starting from the knock on the door to having the orientation or the site visit at the Hall.”

Young broke down when talking about his son Colby, who passed away after a two-year battle with pediatric cancer ended in October of 2017.

“We’ll always speak your name,” Young said.

Young became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2013. His bid started to pick up steam once he started coaching with the Falcons and he advanced to being a semifinalist starting in 2020 before being selected.

“I’m grateful to be a part of such a unique class as well,” Young said.

Butler, a native of Jacksonville, played for former Georgia Tech standout Corky Rogers at Robert E. Lee High (which has been renamed Riverside High).

He was considered one of the top safeties of his era.

“The safety position is the only position that if you look behind you there’s no one,” Butler said. “It’s very important.”

The Packers moved Butler around and used him in coverage and to blitz the quarterback.

“When (defensive backs coach) Ray Rhodes had this discussion with me about blitzing the quarterback, covering tight ends,” Butler said. “This can be something great if we don’t ever have to go to dime or nickel. You can keep your base defense out there and shut down the run as well as the pass.”

In the game today, teams try to use their safeties in the way that Packers defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur and Rhodes used Butler.

“Sooner or later, they’re going say these guys can do more than just line up in the middle of the field and intercept passes,” Butler said. “Now, you see guys like (Seattle’s) Jamal Adams, (Pittsburgh’s) Minkah Fitzpatrick, (Adrian) Amos from the Packers and Budda Baker (of Arizona). I love seeing these guys play because that’s the way it was in the 1990s with me, Merton Hanks, Darren Woodson and Tim McDonald.”

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

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