Patriots

‘The Lord answered that prayer and sent me south of the Mass. Pike’: What Richard Seymour said in his Hall of Fame speech

"I found that my family's values were at the heart of the Patriots' values."

Richard Seymour was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. (AP Photo/David Richard)

The Patriots added a 10th member to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. Richard Seymour, who played with the Patriots from 2001-08 and won three Super Bowl titles with the team, was officially enshrined in Canton, Ohio.

Seymour selected his high school principal, Titus Duren, to officially present him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After Duren spoke highly in a pre-recorded video of Seymour for a few minutes, the legendary Patriot took the stage and gave a 10-minute speech.

Seymour opened his speech by calling the Hall of Fame “football heaven.”

“Thank you Pro Football Hall of Fame, I’m honored to be here,” Seymour said. “I’m overwhelmed today with humility. Not because what this moment says about me, but what this moment says about we, and what we can do together. I’m overwhelmed today with gratitude because I didn’t get here alone. None of us did. None of us could have.

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“Class of 2022, they say you can judge a man by the company he keeps. I couldn’t be among better company than you. It’s a privilege to have my name bound forever with yours in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

Seymour transitioned to thanking his family, which he said this day “belongs” to them.

“Football may be what I do, but family is who I am,” Seymour said. “To my brilliant and beautiful bride Tanya, my high school sweetheart and best friend, who saw the first snap of my career to the last. Thank you sweetheart, to everything you added to my life. I’m not standing here without you. I love you deeply.

“Scripture teaches that your riches are in your family. To our wonderful kids RJ, Caleb, Kennedy, and London, you’re my greatest joy. I believe in your gifts. Of everything I’ve accomplished, there’s no greater honor than being your dad. You continue to make mom and me proud. We love you.”

When Seymour thanked his parents, he shared a funny story of one of his first football memories.

“Of course to my mom, I wouldn’t be here without you or without dad, who I know is watching down on us in awe and admiration,” Seymour said. “It was 31 years ago to this month when you drove me to my first football tryout and I didn’t even get out of the car. Mom, if I told you three decades later that I would be wearing a gold jacket, you would have no reason to believe me. But you believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.

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“You taught me kindness and empathy. Dad taught me the value of hard work and discipline. He was my hero. Together, you and dad instilled in me the most important thing in life – as a friend and teammate, as a husband and dad, as a man – is to stand for something, to live by your values, to lead by example, and most importantly, keep God first.”

After four years with the University of Georgia, Seymour entered the NFL Draft as one of the top prospects in 2001. He shared on Saturday that he wished for one thing entering the draft.

“I knew exactly where I wanted to play, someplace warm. The Lord answered that prayer and sent me south of the Mass. Pike,” Seymour said with a laughter.

While New England certainly isn’t one of the warmer NFL cities, Seymour said the Patriots selecting him with the No. 6 pick was “one of the luckiest breaks” of his life.

“I found that my family’s values were at the heart of the Patriots’ values,” Seymour said. “I was fortunate to join a veteran team because I had a lot to learn. My first year, I went around carrying the pads and getting Dunkin’ Donuts for the guys. I felt like the intern, but I was happy to do it because in exchange, these generous men were happy to share their experience and wisdom.”

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That first year ended in triumph for Seymour, helping the Patriots upset the Rams to win Super Bowl XXXVI, the first in team history.

Seymour thanked several individual members of the Patriots’ defense for guiding him along the way.

“[Willie McGinest] taught me how to be a true professional, how to really pay attention to the details,” Seymour said. “Rodney Harrison taught me how it was like to actually practice hard. O-T-I-S (Otis Smith) taught me how to take care of my body. Ty Law taught me how to take joy in the struggle. A-P (Anthony Pleasant) was my spiritual leader. [Mike] Vrabel was busy drawing us plays to get us open, which he’s still doing to this day.”

There was also another teammate Seymour wanted to mention.

“We had a young quarterback, but we made it work,” Seymour said while laughing.

Seymour and the Patriots’ defense were arguably the most responsible for the first three Super Bowl victories, at least on the field. Seymour wanted to give credit to Patriots owner Robert Kraft on Saturday, saying it all “wouldn’t have happened without one of the best owners in sports.”

“RKK, I call him the godfather, you may know him as Mr. Kraft, to the entire Kraft family, you showed us that being consistent in the little things added up to the big things,” Seymour said. “Always with heart and humanity. You set forth the vision and earned success the right way. RKK, thank you for being a mentor and a dear friend. You too will grace this stage. Patriots Nation, we have another in Canton.”

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Finally, he thanked his former head coach, Bill Belichick.

“Of course, this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Coach Belichick,” Seymour said. “Coach, you’re the best coach in the game. The lessons that I learned from you set me up for success. Not just the game, but in life. Work hard, be meticulous in your preparation, support your teammates, respect your opponents, and put the team first. Coach, thank you for everything you taught me. It’s these values that put me in a position to serve as captain during my next act.”

The Patriots traded Seymour to the Raiders right before the start of the 2009 season. Seymour said the Raiders were actually his favorite team growing up and that “learning from Al Davis was an unexpected gift.”

“Above all else, he was a great leader,” Seymour said of Davis. “He welcomed and listened to every voice. It didn’t matter if you were a man or woman, black or white, gay or straight, he believed that football was a game of values. Mark Davis continues to serve as a beacon today, lighting that torch because he knows that it makes football better and it’s the right thing to do.”

To close out his speech, Seymour gave a message to his fellow Hall of Famers.

“For the last 31 years, football, our game, has afforded me possibilities I could’ve never imagined,” Seymour said. “With that privilege comes profound responsibility, the responsibility of stewardship. The responsibility to put others first, to take care of the details, to keep learning, to keep giving for the long-term strength of our game. Let us commit today and every day to be stewards of our game and its values.

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“In recognition of these values, with reverence for those who passed them down to us, with faith in the generations to whom we pass them forward, I accept this honor, the greatest of my life.”