I’ve been a part of the Patriots Hall of Fame committee ever since it started back in 2007. I’m not sure I’ve had an easier time making my selections as I did this year.
To recap, the committee convenes annually to discuss, analyze and ultimately select three nominees as finalists for the upcoming class. Normally I’m swayed a bit by arguments on behalf of various players, but this year I needed no such persuading.
In the end my choices were simple, and remained the same as they were in my head long before I walked into the room. In order, I went with Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel and Rodney Harrison. In all honesty, only Bill Parcells warranted even a smidge of thought for inclusion, but I stuck with my original thoughts and leaned on the accomplishments of three players who were huge parts of championship success.
As long as I’m going with the transparency thing, really this one in my mind is all about Seymour. The guy generated plenty of actual Hall of Fame buzz last year when he advanced as one of the 15 finalists for Canton, even advancing to the final 10, and the idea of being part of a committee that had yet to include him in the team’s Hall is, well, embarrassing.
Seymour is a four-time All-Pro and was an absolute beast up front for three title-winning Patriots defensive lines. He played inside and out, could rush the passer when asked while also being a force against the run in the old-style two-gap schemes the Patriots dominated with.
From the day he arrived after Bill Belichick took him with the sixth overall pick in 2001, Seymour dominated. For me, it was an easy decision.
Understanding why Seymour is still waiting is difficult, but it could be due to a myth perpetrated by some with regard to his work ethic toward the end of his Patriots tenure in 2008. Seymour clashed with organization at times about money, and he was eventually shipped to Oakland just before the 2009 season. Many in the media defended the move by claiming Seymour’s desire had dissipated and his presence was no longer needed.
I would counter with the following information, albeit somewhat anecdotal. If Seymour’s play had dropped so dramatically, why did the 2009 Patriots have such a hard time stopping the run? Anyone remember how that season ended? Ray Rice ring a bell?
Also, and this is definitely where the anecdotal part comes in, in 20 years covering the Patriots I can recall one season when the locker room didn’t seem to be a tightly knit group. You guessed it – 2009 – when the Seymour-less Patriots dealt with the likes of veterans such as Adalius Thomas, Shawn Springs, Derrick Burgess and Brandon McGowan and others speaking out. Ask any veteran Patriots scribe which team felt different from most others and a vast majority of them would tell you the 2009 club just didn’t seem right.
Maybe that was due to Seymour’s dismissal, maybe it wasn’t. But the notion that Seymour was somehow a problem seemed to be debunked when things deteriorated in the season after he left.
Vrabel and Harrison headed a list of 13 players/coaches who were nominated this year. Parcells and Chuck Fairbanks have both been finalists in the past but appear to face long odds for inclusion. The same could be said of Randy Moss, who generated the most spirited discussions at this year’s meeting. His longevity (he played three-plus seasons in New England) and disruptive nature at the end seemed to rankle some of the committee members.
Personally, while Moss would have to wait a while behind some more worthy candidates, the wide receiver definitely warrants serious consideration based on his immense production as a Patriot.
But 2019 should be about Seymour. He’s been a finalist the last two years and this time he should break through.