The New England Patriots are just 93 days away from kicking off their 2019 season. New England’s two-decade run of dominance is unparalleled in sports, especially during the salary cap era. After winning three Super Bowls in five years, it’s easy to overlook the key players from the original dynasty. These are the players who established the winning culture and transformed New England from lovable underdog to evil empire. When looking at the original dynasty, there are few players more important than Richard Seymour, the greatest 93 in franchise history.
93 Days to Kickoff: Richard Seymour
Richard Seymour was a star from the very beginning of his life. Born in Gadsden, South Carolina on October 6, 1979, Seymour immediately earned praise for his work on the field. Seymour had a season to remember as a Senior, recording eight sacks and 83 tackles while earning All-Region and All-Area honors. His play earned him a scholarship to the University of Georgia.
Seymour proved that he was one of the best athletes in the nation, dominating on a defensive line which also featured Marcus Stroud, Charles Grant, and Johnathan Sullivan. Seymour very well could have been the best of the bunch, as the South Carolina native ended his career with 223 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 25.5 tackles-for-loss, and 35 pressures. He also earned First-Team All-SEC honors in 1999 and 2000 to go along with First-Team All-American honors in 2000.
The Cornerstone Patriot
Seymour entered the 2001 NFL Draft as one of the top prospects in the nation. Everyone loved defensive linemen and Seymour was one of the best in the nation. The New England Patriots held the sixth-overall pick thanks to their 5-11 2000 campaign, and grabbing Seymour was an easy choice for second-year head coach Bill Belichick.
The selection immediately paid off, as Seymour played a large role on New England’s first championship squad. The rookie appeared in 13 games (starting 10) and recorded three sacks, 44 tackles, and five tackles-for-loss. He earned a spot on the NFL’s All-Rookie team and only improved from there.
Following a solid 2002, Seymour emerged as one of the best defensive ends in the NFL. Over the next three seasons, Seymour recorded 17 sacks, 93 tackles, 22 tackles-for-loss, and three forced fumbles. This production, while good on its own, doesn’t tell the whole story with Seymour. New England’s defensive scheme asked defensive ends to eat up space and free up others to make plays. If he were playing in a different scheme, he could have easily led the league in sacks on an annual basis.
All-Pro voters recognized Seymour’s greatness, as he won First-Team All-Pro in three consecutive seasons. Seymour was one of the most important players on the 2003 and 2004 Super Bowl champion Patriots squads.
The Later Years
Seymour’s career peaked during that three-year stretch, but he remained a productive player for the entirety of his New England tenure. From 2006-2008, Seymour recorded 13.5 sacks, 37 quarterback hits, 25 tackles-for-loss, and 72 tackles. He earned one Pro Bowl nomination over this timeframe while playing in 40 of a possible 48 games. Unfortunately, Seymour missed seven games due to injury in New England’s magical 2007 undefeated regular season.
Bill Belichick is notorious for not letting sentimentality get in the way of winning, and made the difficult decision to trade Seymour in the days leading up to the 2009 season. Seymour was entering the final year of his contract and the Patriots couldn’t afford to keep him and Vince Wilfork on the payroll. New England received a 2011 first-round pick for Seymour, which eventually became Nate Solder.
Seymour started his Raiders tenure on a high note, recording six tackles and two sacks just days after the trade. The former first-round pick went on to record four sacks, 12 quarterback hits, and 47 tackles during his first season in Oakland. Seymour spent three more seasons with the Raiders, recording 18.5 sacks, 139 tackles, 42 quarterback hits, and 27 tackles-for-loss during his time with the silver and black. He earned Pro Bowl nominations in 2010 and 2011 for his strong play.
More Than Richard Seymour: The Other 93’s
According to Pro Football Reference, the following players have also worn 93 with the Patriots: Monty Brown, Andre Carter, Rico Corsetti, Antico Dalton, Lawrence Guy, Tim Jordan, Tommy Kelly, Bob Kuberski, Terrell McClain, Marques Murrell, Mike Pitts, Jabaal Sheard, and Shawn Stuckey.
Of those players listed, only Guy, Jordan, Pitts, and Sheard spent more than one season with the team. Guy and Sheard have both won Super Bowls with New England, with Guy’s coming this past February.
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