Law’s induction a symbol of Patriots things to come
The New England Patriots are in Allen Park, Mich. this week for joint practices with the Detroit Lions leading up to Thursday night’s preseason opener in Detroit.
But a good chunk of the organization’s spirit is in Canton.
If you caught former Patriot Ty Law’s induction Saturday night in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, you caught a piece of history. You caught the emotion that goes into an incredible honor such as that.
And you saw the Patriots he won Super Bowls with there in his honor, and you’ll probably see a couple of them in the Hall of Fame down the road.
Richard Seymour, who was up for consideration last year, could be next. Perhaps Rodney Harrison and/or Willie McGinest. We all know that Bill Belichick, who was there Saturday, will be. Tom Brady, he of the one year raise and two-year placeholder contract, of course, goes without saying. Owner Robert Kraft certainly as well.
Saturday’s induction was a breakthrough of sorts. Law was the first of that era as a player, and actually, Bill Parcells was as a coach several years ago. These inductions bring the human level to the game. Yours truly bumped into Law in the lobby of a Houston hotel before the Super Bowl win over Atlanta on the day of the vote, the first time he was being considered, and he was a nervous wreck.
Those up for vote usually just spend that afternoon (the day before the Super Bowl) in their hotel room and simply wait for the call.
Law didn’t get the call for two years,but it finally came last year in Atlanta, ironically. Remember, he was drafted by Parcells – not Belichick – and that’s one of the reasons Parcells belongs in the Patriots Hall too.
“They took a chance on me,” Law said Saturday night. “I was going to give them everything I got. And I did.”
He sure did. It’s too bad he didn’t stay a Patriot for his entire career. He was that shutdown corner covering the other team’s best receiver who also had the eye on the quarterback and a nose for the football (see the Patriots first Super Bowl win over the Rams).
Like most players, injuries began to take their toll, contract issues flared, and by 2005 he and the organization had parted ways, not exactly amicably. But that’s all changed now, and he’ll always be associated with the Patriots, not the Jets Chiefs, or Broncos.
Fittingly, Law gave Belichick his due on Saturday night.
“You didn’t try to change who I was,” he said. “You gave me the opportunity to try my way first, but you always reminded me, if I mess up, we’d go back to doing it your way. … Thank you for showing me how to be a true professional, prepare for games. It’s no mistake or coincidence that you are the greatest coach this game has ever seen.”
Law is the perfect example of how critical having a top corner can be for a defense. Why did the Patriots even bother to draft corner Joejuan Williams out of Vanderbilt in the second round and the answer was you can never have enough good cornerbacks, because one of them may turn into a Ty Law. Or a Malcolm Butler. And, ironically, it’s why they jumped at free agent Stephon Gilmore three years ago when they already had Butler. They hit on a shutdown guy who was even better.
So it’s ironic, the Patriots are in Michigan this week, as Law was a Wolverine before he became a Patriot.
Law didn’t disappoint on Saturday night, just like he didn’t disappoint hardly ever during his 15 year NFL career.
Which former Patriot is next? We’ll see in February. Between now and then, there is, as Belichick would say, a long way to go.
Just ask Ty Law.
Tom King may be reached at 594-1251, or@Telegraph_TomK.email@example.com