Richard Seymour to become fifth Bulldog enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2008, file photo, New England Patriots' Richard Seymour reacts after sacking New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre during the second quarter in an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. Seymour was selected as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2021 on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

Credit: AP

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FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2008, file photo, New England Patriots' Richard Seymour reacts after sacking New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre during the second quarter in an NFL football game in East Rutherford, N.J. Seymour was selected as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2021 on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

Credit: AP

FLOWERY BRANCH – Richard Seymour, who played at the University of Georgia, had to make some adjustments his rookie season.

After he was selected sixth overall by the New England Patriots in 2001, Seymour learned a lesson after his first defensive meeting with coordinator Romeo Crennel.

“He gave us an assignment, and we’re supposed to come back the next day and have an understanding of what’s going on,” Seymour said. “I kind of blew it off. So, the next day we come in and he asked me some questions about what was going on.”

Seymour had no clue and caught the blues about being a professional.

“From that moment forward, I kind of realized that, OK, well, I think I’ve got to study,” Seymour said. “So, it was kind of funny. ... I was talented, but I had so much to learn in terms of how to really be a true pro.”

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Seymour got the message.

He went on to become a seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro over an illustrious 13-year career. He will receive his gold jacket Aug. 5 and be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame the next day in Canton, Ohio.

Seymour will become the fifth Bulldog inducted into the Pro Hall, joining Charley Trippi, Fran Tarkenton, Terrell Davis, and Champ Bailey.

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

Seymour helped to jump-start the Patriots dynasty. He was on three Super Bowl winners, and he played in a fourth Super Bowl.

“Because like everybody who was close to the 2001 team when we beat the Rams, when we also beat the Panthers and Philly, really those first three Super Bowls, they were all defensive-led teams,” Seymour said. “So, I think for us, like if the shift really started to happen right after that. That’s when (Tom) Brady really became Brady.”

Seymour played alongside of safety Rodney Harrison, cornerback Ty Law, linebackers Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Willie McGinest. Law was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019.

“We all understand that it was a defensive team,” said Seymour, a native of Gadsden, South Carolina, who currently resides in Suwanee. “Even in that region, the New Englanders, they understood what the defense meant. We were actually called the Homeland of Defense at that time. But I’m happy that Brady and the offense took off and controlled the clock and made our job a whole lot easier.”

Seymour credited his mother and father for instilling in him the values that help turn him into a Hall of Famer. His father died in 2004, and Seymour will be presented by his former Lower Richland High School principal Titus Duren, who originally wanted Seymour to attend Clemson.

“This honor means a lot to me,” Duren said. “I’ve been in education a little over 50 years, and when Richard called to ask me to do this, I was just floored.”

At Georgia, Seymour and Marcus Stroud were part of a rugged defense. He played in 41 games for the Bulldogs from 1997-2000. He was named an All-American and All-SEC in 2000.

He credited former Georgia defensive line coach Rodney Garner with preparing him for the NFL.

“Coach Garner was very influential in my career,” Seymour said. “He taught me so much about defensive line play. Pushing me to continue to strive to be at my best all the time.”

Stroud, who was drafted by Jacksonville with the 13th overall pick in 2001, also pushed Seymour.

“When I first got to University of Georgia, Marcus was on the cover of Sports Illustrated,” Seymour said. “He was busting out of the University of Florida shirt and he had the Georgia Bulldogs up under there. He was a year ahead of me. I didn’t redshirt, so I was with him my entire career at Georgia. He was someone that kept me striving to reach the level that he was at that time.”

New England coach Bill Belichick praised Seymour for being a smart player who could win with speed and power.

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.

“I think it really kind of goes back to my values that my parents taught me, and then being a competitor,” Seymour said. “I hate to lose. So, at the end of the day, winning is the most important thing you can do.

“It makes everything better, right. It makes film, the next time you watch it, makes that better. ... We had a saying with the Patriots that stats can be for losers.”

Seymour was chosen for the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.

Seymour said that Jonathan Ogden, Willie Roaf and Larry Allen were the toughest offensive linemen that he faced.

“All three of those guys are in Canton,” Seymour said.

Joining Seymour in the class of 2022 are offensive lineman Tony Boselli, linebacker Sam Mills, defensive back LeRoy Butler, defensive linemen Bryant Young, wide receiver Cliff Branch, coach Dick Vermeil and longtime director of officiating Art McNally.

“The reason that you get what you want in life is because you don’t quit,” Seymour said. “It can be that simple.”

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