Richard Seymour

Michael Holley Podcast: Richard Seymour reacts to Tom Brady leaving Patriots

Michael Holley Podcast: Richard Seymour reacts to Tom Brady leaving Patriots

Tom Brady's decision to leave the New England Patriots in NFL free agency was a shocking one to many fans across the region.

Brady had spent the first 20 years of his NFL career in New England and built a Hall of Fame-caliber résumé that includes six Super Bowl championships. The thought of the 42-year-old quarterback ever leaving the Patriots seemed impossible for some fans, but the reality is Brady will be playing for a new team, and in a new division and conference in 2020.

One former teammate who didn't expect Brady to leave the Patriots was Richard Seymour, who won three Super Bowl titles alongside the legendary quarterback from 2001 through 2008. On the latest episode of "The Michael Holley Podcast," Seymour described his reaction to Brady's departure and the challenge that lies ahead for the new Bucs star.

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"I'll say this, I thought it was unexpected," Seymour said. "I didn't see it happening, but I'll say this, Tom has earned that right. He's a guy that's always looking for new challenges, the ultimate competitor. I thought they would work it out and try to figure out a way to get it done, but it's a business and he's earned that right to test the market and see what's out there and how other organizations are ran, that sort of thing. Any time you go somewhere new, it brings out a new challenge -- new teammates, new coaches and a new system to learn. ... I think he's going to relish in that opportunity and I wish both of them well."

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Patriots fans will always appreciate what Brady did for the franchise, and many of them probably will adopt the Buccaneers as a second team and root for the veteran QB to play well. Seymour is happy to cheer for both sides to enjoy plenty of success.

"Everyone always asks, 'Who are you going to pull for, the Patriots or Tom?' I think they can be mutually separate," Seymour explained. "Tom's a lifelong friend. I've know him for 20-plus years, so you always want to see him succeed. Obviously, the Patriots drafted me and there's always a ton of respect for them and the winning culture. I have love in my heart for both." 

Richard Seymour jokes about the real secret to Tom Brady's NFL longevity

Richard Seymour jokes about the real secret to Tom Brady's NFL longevity

Richard Seymour won three Super Bowl titles with Tom Brady and always will be loyal to the former New England Patriots quarterback.

But he's still a defensive end at heart.

When Seymour was asked Tuesday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak & Bertrand" if he's surprised that Brady has had such a lengthy NFL career, the newest member of the Patriots Hall of Fame began with the usual platitudes.

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"It's just a testament to his hard work and commitment," Seymour said. "He's always been a heck of a competitor and always wanted to compete at the highest level.

"I think a lot of things have to go right in order for that to happen, just in terms of the team that the put around you, etc. I think it says a lot about who he is as a person and how he has taken care of his body over the course of the years."

That would have been a fine answer -- except Seymour couldn't resist adding one more line.

"It doesn't hurt that they protect the quarterback," he added jokingly, referencing the NFL's rules to prevent QB injuries. "Can't touch them in practice, keep the red jerseys on 'em. Heck, I could play for 30 or 40 years doing that!"

Spoken like a true defensive lineman.

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We can see where Seymour is coming from: He was drafted a year after Brady in 2001 and is two years younger than the 42-year-old QB but retired in 2012 after 12 seasons of battling in the trenches.

As for Brady? He's still enjoying clean pockets and drawing unnecessary roughness penalties as he enters his 21st NFL season (and first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers).

Seymour certainly made the most of his 12-year NFL career, though, earning seven Pro Bowl nods between stints with the Patriots and Oakland Raiders. And all jokes aside, he still has Brady's respect.

"Love Big Sey!!!!" Brady wrote Monday on the Patriots' Instagram post welcoming Seymour to the Patriots Hall of Fame. "Congrats and one of the original Edgers!!!!"

Bill Belichick praises Richard Seymour after Patriots Hall of Fame selection

Bill Belichick praises Richard Seymour after Patriots Hall of Fame selection

Richard Seymour has been voted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, and Bill Belichick couldn't be more proud of his former star defensive tackle.

The Patriots head coach heaped praise onto Seymour in his official statement Monday. You can read the full statement below:

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Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft was just as laudatory of Seymour in his statement.

If there was any ill will between Seymour and Belichick after the trade that sent Seymour to the Raiders in 2009, that appears to be a thing of the past. Belichick's glowing statement follows Seymour saying he "doesn't have any hard feelings" toward Belichick and has "a ton of respect" for his former coach.

Seymour also was named a finalist for the 2020 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, but he wasn't selected on the final vote. It's likely only a matter of time until he earns a spot in Canton.