Richard Seymour quite likely doesn't know Teddy Roosevelt from Roosevelt Grier (unless he followed the Giants in his formative years). And perhaps he's not familiar with the ex-president's famous motto: "Speak softly, but carry a big stick."
No problem. Seymour, the second-year defensive tackle for the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, has a motto of his own -- which isn't that "catchy" but still fits him to a "T".
Seymour, you see, was once described by a coach at the University of Georgia as "the team's workaholic." Considering that this 6-6, 305-pounder didn't play varsity football (at Lower Richland High in South Carolina) until his junior year, and considering how far he's come in a short span of time (he was the Pats' first-round pick, and sixth overall, in the 2001 NFL draft), it's obvious all this wasn't an accident.
"I think it first came from my family, from my mom (Deborah) and my dad (Richard Sr.)," Seymour said when asked how he developed this trait. "My dad gave me that tough love but my mom gave me a little more nurturing. I think I had the best of both worlds, in that respect.
"Then, when I went to school, my coach (David Moore) always told us we had to work for everything we wanted ... that there's no substitute for hard work. Anything you want, you have to go out and work or it ... so that's always been my motto."
Seymour has worked so hard that he's become the run-stopping, quarterback-rushing lineman the Patriots have lacked longer than anyone cares to remember. Seymour also is not "blowing smoke" when he relates how much coach Moore meant to the whole team let alone himself.
"He just built a trust factor and we began to trust in him," said Seymour. "He would tell us things to do, and if we would execute and do what he told us to do we could come out successful.
"We wanted to go out and play hard and win for him. And we wanted to play for our teammates and not let anyone down. In the process, hard work was the key for everything."
Fine. Now picture a scenario in which Moore was not the Diamonds' coach.
"That's a good question," Seymour replied when asked what football might have been like without his former coach. "The only thing I can answer is what I've been faced with. With coach Moore -- and I think everything happens for a reason -- he's the type of guy who demanded respect from his players. You wanted to go out and play hard for him.
"He also brought a lot of chemistry to our football team. We were a close-knit group."
Moore also brought wisdom and patience to Lower Richmond High, especially in Seymour's case. That was a necessity because Seymour was not some football prodigy, a youngster who dominated youth leagues and whose reputation preceded him before he entered high school.
In fact, Seymour was barred from playing in youth leagues because he always was too big and too strong -- which meant he was penalized for something that made NFL teams go bonkers once he made his presence felt at Georgia.
"The first time I played (organized) football was in the ninth grade ... I was about 6-2, 250 at the time," said Seymour. "I wanted to play Pop Warner football but I wasn't able to play that. But when I got to the sixth or seventh grade, I really didn't want to play football at that point.
"I don't know why. My dad played. My uncles played. My dad didn't force me to play because he said if it's something I wanted to do, instead of something he wanted me to do, then I would do it whole-heartedly."
As a result, Seymour gave football a shot and the rest, as they say, is history.
"I played the game in the ninth grade and ever since then I've had a love for the game," he said. "I've had a passion for it. I love the camaraderie as a team. I just love everything about it.
"I didn't want to play early, but when I got to the ninth grade, it kind of took off from there."
True, but it wasn't as if Seymour was some football genius, a person who could memorize a playbook in the blink of an eye. If anything, his eyes were bloodshot from reading playbooks. At first, that is.
"I was still learning the game ... I really didn't know anything about football," he said. "They were speaking something that was like a foreign language to me, so I had to catch onto everything.
"I was a natural athlete (he lettered in basketball and baseball), and by my junior year I caught on."
Seymour's junior year was when he cracked the starting lineup, after playing one year with the freshman team and another with the junior varsity. So, with only two years of varsity football on his resume, Seymour went on to become an All-Region and All-Area pick in high school; a First Team All-American as a senior at Georgia; and a talent who was on most NFL teams' wish lists.
"(The coaches) brought me along well," he said. "Playing freshman and JV ball was a good experience for me. I wasn't discouraged because I was playing with guys who were older and a whole lot tougher than me at that point. It brought me along slow.
"That's like being a quarterback. If you throw him in the fire, he can get mentally damaged from that. Bringing me along slow really paid off."
True. Just ask any running back Seymour's planted in his tracks or some quarterback who's scrambled for his life with the big guy in pursuit -- which brings us back to the Teddy Roosevelt thing.
Despite the ferocity Seymour brings to the field, he seldom shows his emotions, regardless of how he's playing. In fact, his college roommate and current Cowboys defense end Demetric Evans was quoted as saying, "Richard doesn't get angry. I've never known him to be mad. He's one of those types of people who won't let anything get to him. He doesn't get bothered by the bad, and doesn't get too excited by the good."
Again, this is something that didn't happen by chance.
"It's kind of my personality, but it's also my mom and my dad and my (high school) coach," he said. "I've always been told to stay level-headed ... never get too high or too low. Demetric's the same way, too, so when I came to college I had a roommate who was the same way.
"I've always surrounded myself with good people so I think that's where I get a lot of that from."
Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc.