Bill Belichick invested the No. 6 overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft in a defensive lineman out of Georgia who was less than a household name.
It was a somewhat controversial pick at the time, that one way or the other had the potential to help decide the future of a rebuilding Patriots franchise.
Two decades later, the Patriots will induct Richard Seymour into the team’s Hall of Fame in ceremony at Gillette Stadium this Saturday after an eight-year career in New England that saw the seven-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro help lay the foundation for three Super Bowl wins in the early stages of the dynasty.
“When you look at those defenses, he was the centerpiece of the front,” Belichick said during a Friday Zoom with reporters. “He was the centerpiece, he was the most disruptive player. That’s why he’ll be in the Patriots Hall of Fame and that’s why he’ll probably eventually be in the NFL Hall of Fame, hopefully this year.”
To say Seymour was a unique combination of size, speed, athleticism and power would be an understatement, even for a guy with Belichick’s long history working with defensive players.
“He’s really unlike any other player that I had coached up until that point. There haven’t been many like him,” Belichick said, noting that it was clear very early on that Seymour would make a massive impact in New England. “It jumped out pretty quickly.”
Playing nose tackle for the 2001 Super Bowl team out of necessity and then moving to his more natural spot of 3-4 defensive end to help win Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004 with some of the most dominant defenses in franchise history, Seymour didn’t necessarily pile up big numbers. But his impact was obvious to his coaches the players around him whose job he made easier.
“He was so consistent for the early part of his career when he was with us and through those championship years. You know on the defensive line it’s not really about one flash play, it’s about down after down being dominant,” Belichick said, while also noting Seymour made more than his share of big plays both on defense and in the kicking game.
Belichick went on to note that “the game came easy” to Seymour in terms of the mental side of things, and that the he also brought an impact to the team off the field as a leader.
“I remember Richard coming in as a young player, and he verbalized this, his philosophy was kind of ‘I have two ears and one mouth I’m going to listen more than I speak.’ I think that would be a good way to sum it up,” Belichick recalled. “When he spoke everybody listened carefully to what he said because he wasn’t just a chatterbox, what he said was thoughtful and with a good foundation.
“With Richard there was a lot of depth in really everything he said and did. I was very fortunate, I feel honored to have had the opportunity to coach Richard, not just as a great player but as a person.
“We won a lot of games with him and certainly wouldn’t have won as many without him. So I’m always appreciative of Richard and what he did for myself, my family and the New England Patriots."