Former New England Patriots standouts Ty Law and Richard Seymour were both announced as Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists on Thursday.
Just two days before the 2018-2019 NFL Playoffs are scheduled to get underway, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced a class of 15 finalists for enshrinement at Canton. Among those players listed, two jump off the page as former stars for the New England Patriots: Richard Seymour and Ty Law.
For Seymour, it’s his first time making it this deep in the selection process. The massive defensive end played 12 years in the league – the first eight with the Patriots and the last four with the Raiders – before calling it quits in 2013. Along the way, he helped the team win three Super Bowl titles, while also earning seven Pro Bowl nominations himself.
Arguably the most impressive aspect to Seymour’s legacy is his versatility: he found tremendous success playing both as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 defense and as a defensive end in a 3-4 defense. The same can’t be said of many players in today’s NFL, and especially back in the early 2000s, it was virtually unheard of to see a professional player change positions within a defensive schematic overhaul and not miss a single beat.
While Seymour is a first-timer as a finalist, this is Law’s third crack at getting a bust in his image. Law played a whopping 15 seasons in the NFL, 10 of which were spent with the Patriots. He also won three championships with New England and amassed five Pro Bowl nominations of his own.
Law will forever be remembered not only for his regular season prowess with the team, but also for his knack at making big plays on some of the biggest stages. He scored on a Kurt Warner pick-six in the Patriots’ first Super Bowl win, and intercepted Peyton Manning three times in the AFC Championship Game the very next year, guiding the team to a repeat as world champions.
Seymour and Law are also similar in that they were two of the first high-profile Patriots players to find themselves kicked to the curb by Bill Belichick once he deemed them both past their prime. Both players found themselves suiting up for other franchises when they would have rather stayed and retired in New England; thankfully, neither one of them seems to hold a grudge against Belichick or against the Patriots in general.
Law will face strong competition from fellow cornerback Champ Bailey, the ex-Denver Bronco who was announced as a finalist in his very first year of eligibility. Bailey’s 12 Pro Bowl nods is an NFL record among cornerbacks, and his career stats are pretty much on par with Law’s.
The one major advantage Bailey could enjoy as voters continue to narrow down their lists is name recognition. Law is certainly known amongst both hardcore Patriots fans as well as most casual fans of football during the ’90s and ’00s, but maybe not quite to the same degree as Bailey. One could even argue that part of the reason Bailey got voted to so many Pro Bowls was because his name and reputation preceded him – even long after his skills began to diminish on the field.
Seymour, for his part, does not face the same level of competition, as he is the only finalist who played along the defensive line.
Still, both Patriots players figure to be underdogs when the final class is announced. Tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Ed Reed are both finalists in their first year of HOF eligibility, and both look like locks to get in. Raiders coach Tom Flores also seems like a good bet.
In the end, we’re predicting Gonzalez, Reed, Bailey, and Flores all get in. Hopefully either Seymour or Law can snag the fifth spot if there is one… but we’ll have to wait till February right before the Super Bowl to find out.