NFL players go on to do any number of things after hanging up their jerseys.
Many become TV commentators. Others find their second act in coaching. Countless former players have transitioned into the business world.
Richard Seymour’s post-NFL career might be in a league of its own. The former defensive tackle and three-time Super Bowl champion retired in 2012, eventually trading the gridiron for the felt top.
The 39-year-old has made a name for himself on the pro poker circuit where he attends tournaments in North America and Europe. He’s a fixture at the annual World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas.
While Seymour may never win the millions playing poker that he made throughout his NFL career, he cleans up respectfully in poker tournaments. Within a few years of retiring, he had amassed more than $125,000 in poker earnings.
In July, Seymour surprised many by making a serious run at the 2019 WSOP Main Event. The South Carolina native finished in 131st place out of more than 8,500 entrants, a commendable showing for a guy who was beating down offenses on the gridiron just a few years ago.
Seymour cashed out of the WSOP Main Event with $59,295. His best poker career showing was a third-place finish worth $376,360 at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Single Day $25K event in 2018.
A defensive juggernaut throughout his 12 seasons in the NFL, Seymour finished his football career with 496 combined tackles, 57.5 sacks, and two interceptions.
He was selected by the Patriots out of the University of Georgia as a First Round (sixth overall) pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. He played eight seasons in New England under coach Bill Belichick, winning Super Bowls in 2001, 2003, and 2004.
Relatives first exposed Seymour to poker prior to his NFL days. He organized Monday night poker games during his stint with the Patriots as a way to relax and foster friendly competition.
“[We played poker] watching football and eating food. We didn’t play for high stakes, as it was more a place to kick back with your buddies,” Seymour recalled during an interview with ESPN.
During his term with the Patriots, Seymour was named to five consecutive Pro Bowls between 2002 and 2006.
New England traded Seymour to the Oakland Raiders prior the beginning of the 2009 season in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He was initially apprehensive to join the Raiders, but quickly found a groove, starting all 16 games for the Silver and Black.
Seymour made Pro Bowl appearances for Oakland in 2010 and 2011. He was named a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s in 2010.
[credit]Photo by Keith Allison / CC BY-SA 2.0[/credit]
Seymour began taking his old pastime more seriously following his retirement from football. He feverishly consumed instructional poker books and videos to sharpen his skills. He also reached out to established poker pros for discussions about strategy and technique.
For an elite athlete accustomed to high levels of competition, the pro poker ranks aren’t a huge departure from the NFL. Quite a few parallels can be drawn between the sports.
Seymour cites the mental challenges of poker as the aspect that most draws him to the felt. He also enjoys socializing with other players and the need for poise under pressure.
“[Poker] keeps me mentally engaged and wanting to keep playing at a really high level,” Seymour told ESPN.
Seymour, who now lives in Georgia, insists he’s not full time in poker and plays as his schedule allows. His wife Tanya enjoys traveling and often accompanies Seymour on trips to poker tournaments. The couple has five children.
Winning a WSOP bracelet is Seymour’s ultimate goal in poker, which would certainly be a nice counterpart to his three Super Bowl rings. If the former NFL star continues to improve his game among the best in the world, a new addition to the jewelry collection could be within reach.