PLAYING THE RUN, rushing the passer, making an impact even when faced with multiple blockers, Richard Seymour at his peak was one of the three best defensive tackles in the NFL.
Even though Seymour's prime surely is behind him, there is reason to believe he still can summon another year or three of quality football.
But not as a Raider.
Oakland on Sunday acquired Seymour from New England in exchange for the Raiders' first-round pick in the 2011 draft. It's a steep price indeed, considering they have spent the past six seasons at or near the bottom of the league.
While the rationale behind the trade — to address the porous run defense — can be sold to even the most skeptical citizens of the Raider Nation, the problem with this trade is that established stars coming to Oakland lately have not delivered as advertised.
For a gifted veteran with Pro Bowls on his resume but approaching a career crossroads, Oakland no longer is the place for redemption and revival. Ask Warren Sapp. Or Randy Moss. Or Kerry Collins. Or DeAngelo Hall.
Recall Gibril Wilson. Check the production and influence of Javon Walker.
Anyone paying attention realizes the Raiders organization, once the league's most successful rehabilitation home, rescuing careers by the dozen, has become the place where talent turns toxic.
It's not that Seymour can't reverse this trend. It's that the deck is stacked against any effort he might make.
On paper, Seymour would seem to be exactly what Oakland's defense desperately needs, precisely the type of player the organization paid Tommy Kelly to be. Seymour's reputation is as a dynamic interior lineman who anchors a stout run defense. The Raiders have been trying without success to fix theirs for the better part of a decade. In this regard, bringing in a 6-foot-6, 310-pound hammer is the strongest move yet.
Remember, though, how impressive was the 2005 acquisition of Moss. The Raiders needed a fast, productive wideout for the vertical passing game, and they snagged the best man available.
The Nation rejoiced, rightly so. And Moss arrived to a reception fit for a visiting dignitary, from the limo to the 1.2-mile police escort from Oakland International Airport to Raiders headquarters on Harbor Bay Parkway.
That was as good as the relationship got. Moss was happy for a day, maybe two, until he showed up for camp and got a taste of the madness. Didn't take long to realize the Raiders had become too inept and petty to have any chance of rejoining the league's elite.
Moss checked out in a hurry, like anyone with a weak commitment to professionalism.
Moved to the Patriots after two disappointing seasons for three old footballs and a worn pair of Tom Brady cleats, Moss has flourished in New England. He has returned to an NFL team where the priority was on winning football instead of the whimsical priorities of the owner.
So now Raiders boss Al Davis turns to another established star, bringing Seymour into a similarly poisonous culture — in the middle of a youth movement no less — while hoping for a dramatically different result.
Al's only chance is if Big Rich arrives on a mission to prove he remains a difference-maker. Indeed, the Raiders surrendered an awful lot for a man with one season remaining on his contract.
Seymour, who turns 30 next month, is capable of playing anywhere along the line, in either a 4-3 defense or a 3-4. He represents another chance for Kelly, who likely will move outside to end, to show he can produce at a level closer to his gargantuan contract.
Moreover, Seymour represents credibility, something the Raiders haven't had much of since 2002 — on either side of the ball.
But this is not the environment it was in the late 1990s and early this decade, when the likes of Jerry Rice, Rod Woodson, Rich Gannon, Eric Allen, Lincoln Kennedy, William Thomas, Tyrone Wheatley, John Parrella and Charlie Garner showed up in Oakland to punctuate their careers.
It's more fickle, less stable now.
Folks in New England say Seymour was a marvelous player, a solid man and a subtle leader. He'll need every ounce of his character to make a difference in Oakland, where the conditions are decidedly opposite those he knew with the Patriots.
Contact Monte Poole at firstname.lastname@example.org.