"He is a captain and one of our best players and I have the utmost respect for Richard," Belichick said. "I understand the questions but I can't get into every policy or every decision I have to make. From a football standpoint, we make a lot of decisions and I can't detail every single one of them; not that I would anyway."
According to Seymour, the team knew he would miss practice last Thursday while attending his grandfather's funeral in South Carolina, but that is where things get cloudy. According to a defensive teammate, Seymour also missed Wednesday's practice, although that information has been confirmed as inaccurate. Seymour did practice Wednesday, but apparently missed Thursday and either some or all of Friday's work.
He was notified Friday when he returned to New England that he wouldn't start and claimed to be "disappointed" and "shocked."
Asked Sunday night if this incident, which obviously upset the Pro Bowl lineman, might affect his future in New England, Seymour said, "I don't know. I'm going to be a pro about it. I've grown and matured and I'll handle it as a professional. I'm not going to look at (Belichick) any differently. Coaches coach, players play and reporters report. I try to go in and help the defense when I'm in there and as you could see, we needed help."
Seymour entered the game early in the second quarter and made an immediate impact. He quickly recorded two tackles on Jaguars running back Fred Taylor, one for a 1-yard gain and the other for a 1-yard loss. He started the Patriots' third defensive series and immediately notched a 6-yard strip sack.
"I was ready to go from the start both physically and mentally," Seymour said.
Jarvis Green started in Seymour's place after taking the reps at his spot Thursday and apparently Friday as well. Green was not notified that he would start until Sunday during pregame warm-ups.
One Patriots player confirmed that team policy states that missing two days of practice during the week results in a non-start. Earlier this season, Larry Izzo missed significant practice time when his father died, but his playing time was unaffected as he received game plans and studied up even while away with his family. But Izzo doesn't start on defense anyway, playing mostly on special teams, so it was quite obviously a different situation.
Belichick certainly would have liked to avoid the situation, but continued to use his staple phrase, "I do what's best for the football team." He remains consistent along those lines and obviously no Patriot - even the team's best player - is above the team policy.
Earlier this season when Lawyer Milloy was released, it was Seymour who stepped up and defended his coach for making difficult decisions. Now one has to wonder if his feelings have changed on that matter since he was visibly upset and embarrassed by the decision.