Willie McGinest gives heartfelt tribute to Patriots legend Richard Seymour

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Willie McGinest gives heartfelt tribute to Patriots legend Richard Seymour originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Richard Seymour was arguably the most important defensive player on the New England Patriots in the early to mid-2000s.

His combination of elite talent, excellent size and impressive athleticism made him a great pass rusher, an effective run stopper and one of the most versatile players in his position group.

He earned seven Pro Bowl selections, three All-Pro selections and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame's All-Decade team for the 2000s.

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Seymour's impact has never been lost on Willie McGinest. They were teammates from 2001 through 2005 and won three Super Bowl titles together.

McGinest reflected on Seymour's place in Patriots history a few days before the former defensive lineman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the 2022 class.

"I call Richard my big little brother," McGinest said on NFL Network. "This guy meant so much to the team, our defense. When we drafted him, he played in the Super Bowl his first year and was a big part of what we did and helped shape what we were as a team and our culture. For a guy who's so versatile and can do so much at his position -- pass rush, stop the run and just how smart he was. And what he was off the field, our relationship.

"I was excited -- he had been a finalist for (the Hall of Fame) a few years and I kept telling him, 'You're time is gonna come. Trust me, little bro, you're getting in.' He helped my career. He helped me become a better player."

Seymour and McGinest were two great players on Patriots defenses that were instrumental to championship success. Seymour's HOF induction was well-deserved. McGinest is worthy of the same honor, but it might take some time for that to happen. He did not make the semifinalist list for the 2022 class.