Patriots

15 questions with former Patriots star Richard Seymour

Is playing for the Patriots fun? We asked Richard Seymour, who enters the Patriots Hall of Fame in October.

New England Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour smiled as he met with the media after a game in 2005. Seymour will enter the Patriots Hall of Fame in October. AP

It’s been 13 years since Richard Seymour laced up his cleats as a defensive end for the New England Patriots.

Seymour, who will enter the Patriots Hall of Fame in October, worked hard to fill his 6-foot-6-inch, 317-pound frame during his playing days. Now, at 41, his focuses include staying fit in retirement, and growing his post-NFL income. To both those ends, he’s partnered with the founders of Dezo, a better-for-you boozy drink made with ingredients like coconut water and premium vodka.

Seymour recently agreed to chat by phone about Dezo, his time with the Patriots, and more.

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Tell me a little bit about Dezo, and how you got involved.

“Dezo was started by a really ambitious team from Boston (the family of one of the founders owns the bar Bell in Hand) who wanted to make the liquor space healthier. For me it was the ingredients — no sugar added, no preservatives whatsoever. . . . You mix that with premium spirits and you’ve got a great cocktail, and that’s what Dezo is.”

What were you drinking previously? What’s your go-to alcoholic beverage?

“Me and my wife, we enjoy wine. In terms of spirits, I like tequila, vodka, something a little cleaner.”

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Of the three Dezo flavors — watermelon water, coconut water, and cactus water — which do you like the most?

“Yeah they all taste amazing, but my favorite is cactus. It tastes great, it’s refreshing, it’s light. You don’t even realize you’re drinking alcohol.”

What do you do now in terms of exercise and staying in shape?

“I think a lot of it for me is just nutrition, make sure I’m eating properly with a healthy diet. I love to incorporate fasting into my lifestyle. And in terms of working out, I may lift, do some resistance training, maybe two days a week. And the rest of it I just try to be active. It’s not like I’m trying to squat 600 pounds.”

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What’s something you know now that you wish you knew as a young athlete?

“I’d probably lean towards ‘don’t sweat the small stuff.’ As a young player you want to be perfect about everything, and nothing’s really ever perfect. You try to compete and do your best and prepare as best as possible, but some things you just can’t control. You realize as you get older that you try to take the good and the bad and take it all in stride, and you learn to appreciate the black days.”

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During the Olympics recently, Simone Biles sparked more awareness around mental health in sports. How do you view the recent increase in discussion around that?

“I think mental health is important. You never know what someone else is going through, you know? I just think you try to listen as much as possible and be there for support. Some things you can’t see, and you just want to be sensitive and compassionate to what someone else may be going through.”

You’re going into the Patriots Hall of Fame in October. What does that honor mean to you?

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“I just reflect upon the relationships that I’ve cultivated over the years, and what that really means at this point. And then also I think about longevity and the body of work, what it takes to play at that level for so long, for in my eyes now one of the premier franchises in the National Football League, with classy ownership and brilliant coaches and tough, hard-nosed players.

“I just think I was very fortunate to be a rookie when we won our first Super Bowl, and I really never looked back since. I think as a player you never really look back a lot when you’re playing the game. And even now it’s still tough to reflect, but I think it’s also an opportunity to share this moment with so many people who’ve meant so much.”

Who among your former teammates do you still talk to?

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“I talk to a lot of guys. We’ve got a group thread — I talk to Willie [McGinest] often, I talk to Rodney Harrison often, Ty Warren, [Tedy] Bruschi. It’s a lot of guys that I keep in contact with. Those are life-long relationships.”

What are those chats like?

“A lot of it is just a brotherhood — how are the kids, how’s the family, how are you personally doing? It’s just normal conversations with former teammates but also lifelong friends.”

Do you have a memory from that first training camp, when you were 20 years old?

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“My body felt really good that first training camp [laughs], not so much by year 12. I was a young guy coming in with a lot of veterans. It’s such a blessing, I was in such a great learning environment, I was just really a sponge. I was 20, I had guys on the team that were 30-plus at the time with a wife and kids. So I got the opportunity to see what it’s like to be professional. For me that was invaluable.”

There’s been a lot of back and forth in recent years on whether or not playing for the Patriots is fun. Where do you land on that?

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“At the end of the day, I enjoyed my experience. I can’t speak for others, but I think we learned so much. Anything in life worth having is also worth working for. There’s ups and downs, and that’s a part of life. I enjoyed my experience, and one thing for me is my teammates kept it light and fun. That’s what I would say.”

Tell me a good Tom Brady story from those early years.

“I think you always think about the competitive side of Tom. One year we were in training camp and after practice we were waiting on another meeting to start. Guys were playing dominoes and backgammon. I’m not sure who it was, but it was one of the offensive linemen. They were just cracking Tom in one of the table games, and he didn’t take too kindly to that. Even in practice after I think he was yelling at the offensive line. It’s funny to see him react the way he did. It just goes to show his competitive side and how he didn’t want to lose.”

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There’s a debate, partially created by the media, which tries to give credit for the Patriots’ dynasty to either Tom Brady or Bill Belichick. Does that undercount the contributions of really good players like yourself?

“I don’t think it discredits anything to the true football fan. They understand. Maybe the people who just watch some highlights here and there, they might see the storyline, and that comes with the territory. You’re talking about one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game and also one of the best coaches. I think at the end of the day the true football fans know who were instrumental in terms of the team’s success.”

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Speaking of debates, we here in New England are debating whether Cam Newton or Mac Jones should start for the Patriots. What do you think both players are thinking right now at their respective places in their careers?

“You always want a situation where it’s competition. And I think that’s what sports are, competition at the highest level, regardless of if he was a first-round draft pick or a sixth-round draft pick. The best player needs to play, and we don’t decide it by talking about it, right? The guys on the field decide that.”

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Was that true for you as a first-round draft pick? Did you feel that sort of constant pressure to keep your job?

“I look at it like this: The draft is really just a payment for what you did in college. Now you have an opportunity to prove what you’re going to do from this point forward. It’s really about competing at the highest level, being a good teammate, and having the desire to be one of the best to do it. If you’re driven by all of the things that come along with football, that eventually shows itself. But if you love the game, you want to compete, those are some of the sustaining factors in the long haul.”

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After launching in the state in February, Dezo is available in more than 250 stores and restaurants across Massachusetts.

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