Somewhere, out among the tents that have fallen quiet in the narrow streets that wind through campus, Golston's family is waiting for him. "It's hard, but it's all right," he says. "They understand, you know? They're family. They understand."
SUNDAY, Oct. 10
Patriots 24, Dolphins 10
Still rather new to success, New England is in its third season of unbridled giddiness over this football business. An operation once so threadbare that it played a home game in Alabama is now the NFL's signature franchise. The stadium in Foxboro, Mass., is always full, the fans are several levels above adoring, and even the notoriously sour Boston sports media seem to be in a permanent swoon. And on this cloudy afternoon, facing the crumbling remnants of the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots are trying to do something that no other team has done.
Richard Seymour's season has begun slowly. Now a recognized defensive star, he's faced double and triple teams, and his statistics don't measure up to the standard he set for himself in 2003. In the team's first three games he managed only three tackles and one sack. He was sufficiently invisible that Belichick made a point of defending him publicly. "Not everybody gets the same number of opportunities every week," Belichick said. "He's our best lineman, and he's playing well. His production will come." What Belichick didn't mention--but what everybody around the Patriots knew--was that this season is different from any other season Seymour has known. There is a dark place deep in its heart, and the people who know it understand how fragile everything about him has become.
Last April 25, almost three months after he and the rest of the Patriots got to hoist the unwieldy silver andiron that the NFL bestows upon its champions, Richard Seymour was getting ready to marry Winston, his longtime girlfriend. The wedding was going to be in Orlando, and it was going to be huge.
Seymour had arrived as a pro. He'd come to the Patriots as the sixth pick in the draft. He'd had only 11/2 sacks as a senior at Georgia, but Belichick and the Patriots are known for looking deeper than the numbers. "When you watched him, you could see he was a good player," says Belichick. "But when you spent time with him, you could see his maturity. He was just a real solid kid, professionally and personally."
Over his three seasons in New England, Seymour had done more than justify the faith the team had shown in him. By 2003 he was a defensive captain, and in the Super Bowl it was he who'd fallen on a crucial fumble by Carolina quarterback Jake Delhomme. His mother still came to every game she could, even though she wasn't that big a fan of football in the northern latitudes. His father, however, was as much a presence as he'd been at Georgia games.
But on April 25, as Seymour was planning his wedding, Lynn Mack was on the back porch of a house on Traveler Lane back in Columbia, S.C. She was watching over the beer for her friend Coretta Myers, 36, who was having a cookout. It was a loud and rowdy time. At one point a guest walked in on a blazing row that Myers was having with the older man she'd been seeing, Richard Seymour. He stormed out of the house. "I thought he'd gone home," says Mack.
At about one o'clock in the morning, a Ford Explorer came barreling down the street. Standing in front of the house with Myers and another friend, Valerie Wilson, Mack thought the police were coming to bust the party. Seymour got out of the truck. Something shone in his hand.