Richard Seymour's hands are like bear paws—big, thick and heavy. His fingers are twisted and scarred from of ripping through opposing NFL offenses for 12 years, the last four in Oakland with the Raiders. Yet on this particular Tuesday morning Seymour displays the hands of a skilled chef, delicately cracking eggs on a hot skillet in his kitchen. He is making breakfast for his four kids, sons RJ, 10, and London, 5, and daughters Kayla, 9, and Kennedy, 7, less than an hour before he drives them to school. While some cooks prefer to scramble their eggs in a bowl and others add milk to stretch the serving, Seymour drops each egg into the skillet one by one, lets them sit over the flame, then gently stirs to the right consistency. "Don't try this at home," he jokes.
It's a side of an NFL player few get to see. To fans, Seymour is an imposing 6'6", 310-pound defensive tackle who's quick enough to slip past offensive linemen at the snap of the ball or the fiery guy who once punched Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the face mask after Roethlisberger got too mouthy for his taste. But Big Rich, as his teammates call him, has a wicked sense of humor. To wit: He agrees to let a video crew trail him for the day, even allowing them to film him picking up his wife, Tanya, at the San Francisco airport. When the crew begins shooting, Seymour calls airport security over, claiming he's being harassed by the paparazzi. The awkward silence is finally broken when Seymour bursts into laughter.
When Tanya later talks about the public's misperception of NFL players as superheroes, Seymour interrupts. "I am a superhero," he says, chuckling.
The jokes stop once Richard and Tanya arrive at the two-story Mediterranean-style home they lease in the hills of San Ramon, Calif., to meet with Craig Jones, their financial planner. Seymour, 33, is in the final year of a two-year, $30 million deal with the Raiders. He wants to make sure his money is working as hard for him as he has worked for it, just in case this is the last NFL contract he signs.
Stories about NFL players being broke within two years of retirement give Seymour pause, which is one reason why he counsels younger teammates about maintaining perspective when it comes to their finances. "It's O.K. to buy a GMC truck instead of an expensive luxury model," he tells them. "You have to be strong and say, 'Hey, I'm thinking about my kids' college funds, so that when I'm done playing, it's not like a lifestyle change.' I try to live on a percentage of my liquid assets. It's important to me."
Family time is of equal importance. If there's a common question the Seymour children get from their classmates, it's whether they get to see their father, a seven-time Pro Bowler, often. To help make up for his busy schedule and time away from home, Seymour and Tanya came up with No-TV Tuesdays, a day they dedicate to spending their free time together. Each week one of the kids chooses a game for the family to play, Monopoly and Hedbanz being the most popular.
And make no mistake, once the games begin, the family competes with the intensity Seymour brings to the defensive line on Sundays. "Tuesday is everyone's hype day," Tanya says. "They're ready to play the game."
One good thing about Tuesdays for Seymour? He doesn't wake up the next day with bruised hands. Usually it's nothing worse than a bruised ego.
ON THE WEB
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JEFF GROSS/GETTY IMAGES (SEYMOUR IN UNIFORM)
HEINZ KLUETMEIER (TROTTER)