By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
In a year where the Pro Football Hall of Fame blew open its doors for a pair of All-Pros from the 2000s, it’s disappointing that voters couldn’t do the same for Richard Seymour.
The Hall announced its class of 2020 on Saturday, and there’s really only one inductee who was an obvious first-ballot lock. He’s a guard. Steve Hutchinson made five All-Pro teams and seven Pro Bowls across 12 consistently dominating seasons with the Vikings and Seahawks, so yeah, not much thought needed there.
The rest? Very strong, even clear-cut deserving candidates. But not so clearly better than Seymour that they leapfrog him for a bronze bust while he watches from the sidelines. Whatever the reason, the former Patriots and Raiders defensive end came up short in the final selection process in his second year on the ballot while comparable, arguably even inferior players didn’t have to wait.
Steelers safety Troy Polamalu went right in on his first try. He’s got enough credentials. Seymour may have more Super Bowl rings (three vs. two), but Polamalu has the edge in First-Team All-Pro honors (four vs. three) and was clearly one of the two most dynamic safeties in the league along with Ed Reed for much of his career. It’s just curious that he’s viewed as a shoo-in while they need so much more convincing for Seymour.
Former Colts running back Edgerrin James finally got in on his sixth try and fourth year as a finalist. That he had to wait illustrates that voters look at his numbers and see someone who was at least a little bit, kind of a product of the team around him. But his sheer production was clearly enough to get him in eventually. He’s 13th all-time in rushing yards (12,246), and every other player in the top-15 is a Hall of Famer or will be some day. Frank Gore (third all-time) and Adrian Peterson (fifth) will join James down the road.
So maybe Seymour is the Edgerrin James of defense from his era. Bill Belichick gets so much credit for masterminding the Patriots’ dominant defenses of the 2000s, and Seymour had so many talented teammates (including 2019 Hall of Famer Ty Law) that he has become marginalized based on the voting results. But there’s a reason he was a First Team All-Pro three times and he’s getting so close to Canton in the first place.
Former Rams receiver Isaac Bruce made the same exact journey as James. Six years, four as a finalist. He’s another player who was never necessarily the very best in the league, but stacked 16 productive seasons and worked his way up to fifth all-time in receiving yards (another list littered with Hall of Famers). Bruce’s induction should pave the way for guys like Steve Smith, Reggie Wayne, and Andre Johnson.
Rounding out the 2020 inductees is former Broncos and Jets safety Steve Atwater, who retired before the 2000 season. The two-time All-Pro had to wait until his 16th year of eligibility, so clearly it could be worse for Seymour and the Patriots.
It’s hard to believe that it would take over a decade for Seymour to get in, considering he’s made the finals two years in a row already. The 2021 class has a couple of easy ones on deck in Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson, but there should be plenty of room for Seymour. He tweeted “I respect the process…2021” on Saturday.
But if you really watched Seymour play during his career, it’s curious to you that it looks like he’ll need to be more patient than some of his peers. Polamalu got inducted right away. If that’s what Polamalu deserved, the same should be said for Seymour. Hopefully he won’t need to wait much longer.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.