Ty Law is ranked third on my list of best defensive players from the Brady-Belichick dynasty era because of his statistics, history, and other areas of the game that he excelled in during his time in New England. But, perhaps, Law’s most memorable moment was in the first Rams’ Superbowl in 2001 when he intercepted Kurt Warner for a touchdown. This play and many others make him stand out as the third player on my list.
Number Three: Ty Law, CB
Ty had a tough upbringing in a rough neighborhood in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, where he sold crack at age 15. He had an epiphany after being shot multiple times while attempting to get revenge over a drug deal gone wrong. After this life-changing event, he put everything he could into his dream of playing professional football. He adapted to a mindset of betting on himself and took great pleasure in proving people wrong anytime they doubted him.
“No matter where you go, you’ll always have doubters. But, sometimes, they’ll be the people who are supposed to believe in you most.”
Ty Law was drafted 23rd overall in the 1995 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots and played on the Patriots for the first ten years of his 15-year career. The Patriots won four championships and three super bowls in that span. After being part of the Patriots losing effort in 1998 during Super Bowl XXXI (31) against the Green Bay Packers, Law was a vital piece of the defense and the resulting dynasty that dominated the league for almost 20 years.
After coming up short in Super Bowl XXXI, Ty Law would redeem himself during Super Bowl XXXVI (36) when the Patriots faced off against arguably the best offensive team in the league during the 2001 St. Louis Rams. Law was a difference maker in the game, recording a critical interception in the 2nd quarter, which was returned for a TD. The Patriots only won that Super Bowl by a last-second field goal, with a final score of 20-17. It was a close game where every player involved made a difference. The team chemistry from the Patriots’ first Super Bowl Victory would carry on to countless wins in the following seasons, echoing throughout the NFL for decades.
In 2003, Law and the Patriots would put together a historically significant defensive effort. The Patriots’ Defense recorded 29 interceptions in a year where they would only allow 11 passing touchdowns (the sixth least passing TDs allowed by a defense during the regular season over the last 20 years). In addition, they managed to hold opponents to 14.9 points per game, and opposing quarterbacks recorded an astonishingly low average passer rating of 56.2. This Patriots team led the league in all four of the above categories and is considered by some to be the greatest defense in Patriots history.
The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers that year in a close game where Ty Law recorded five solo tackles. Law can be forgiven for not catching an interception during that Super Bowl, as the game before that, he had recorded three interceptions against a prime Peyton Manning (during the 2003 AFC Championship Game), in what was possibly the most outstanding performance ever by a defensive back in a postseason game. I’ve never seen any defensive back come even close to as good as Law was in that game, and I’ve watched a lot of football.
Notable Stats, Accolades Areas He Excelled In:
- He had 53 Career Interceptions, Ranked 24th all time. Most interceptions amongst all DB during the 1998 and 2005 seasons. Seven Interception Returns for TD, good for 12th most all-time, with a career interception yardage total of 828 (21st all-time). His 36 interceptions are tied with 80’s throwback Raymond Clayborn for most in Patriots franchise history.
- Law had 108 Passes defended in his career, the 49th most in NFL history.
- Gaining 708 Solo Tackles. (56th most in NFL history)
- Earned five Pro Bowls. Two First Team All-Pro AP in 1998 and 2003.
- Hall of Fame Inductee, Class of 2019.
- Patriots Hall of Fame Inductee in 2014.
- Ty Law was Peyton Manning’s Kryptonite. Ty recorded nine interceptions against Peyton in his career. Two came in Manning’s infamous rookie year when he set the record for most interceptions thrown in a season by a rookie QB (28). I can’t say for sure without doing countless hours of additional research, but it seems safe to say he’s at the top of the list when it comes to interceptions against legendary Patriots rival Peyton Manning (If anyone knows of any player(s) who had more than nine interceptions against Peyton Manning during their career, let me know on Twitter @Patkeefe12).
Cons: Dominated in his one-year revenge tour with the Jets, racking up a career-high and league-leading ten interceptions. Boo Jets.
During my research, I found a great article from the Players Tribune from 2019, a letter from Ty Law to his younger self. I wanted to quote one segment when he’s talking about his early years, specifically Tom Brady, because It’s pretty damn cool. (This is written by Ty Law and directed towards his younger self)
“New England is … well, it’s basically Boston. And the fans are no joke. They won’t give a damn that you’re a first-round pick. They’ll boo the s* out of you. And you know what? You’ll love them for it. They’ll constantly remind you that you gotta earn every last bit of respect in this league, and you gotta earn it every day. In your second season, you’ll make it to the Super Bowl … and lose. Five years later, you’ll make it back. That’s the year that your team will have the greatest quarterback in the history of football… and nobody will even know.”
“Number 12 — a skinny little pretty-boy named Tom. He’s the backup quarterback. You’ll know about him because he’s a Michigan guy, like you. You’ll actually sell him your house when the Patriots draft him. You’ll even give a discount to your fellow Wolverine. You gotta pass on the wealth and take care of the young bucks, you know?”
“Well, when the starter, Drew Bledsoe, gets injured early in the season, Tom will take over. And since your defense is stacked and this dude has barely played a down in the league, you’ll basically tell him, “We got this, kid. Just don’t mess it up for us.”
“But I’m telling you: Pretty boy is a competitor. You pick him off in practice, and he’ll come right back at you the next play. You and the guys on defense will dance in his face and celebrate and taunt him and talk about his Mama … you’ll be ruthless. It’ll be damn-near comical. But he won’t ever back down.”
“One night, you’ll be out at a team dinner at Abe & Louie’s in Boston. You’ll be talking about what’s gonna happen when Drew comes back. And Tom will speak up and say, “He’s not getting his f**** job back!” So yeah … dude’s pretty cold, and he’s got some swag to him. But as it turns out, he can kind of ball, too.””
The Patriots cut Ty Law in 2005, and from the same article above is quoted as saying:
“Over the next few years, you’ll spend one season with the Jets — where you’ll lead the league in interceptions — and a couple with Kansas City. But it won’t be anything like you had it up in New England. That place … that team … that whole franchise … it’s special, bro. You’ll be dying to get back there.”
In one of his first interviews as a rookie, Ty Law prophetically stated that his goal was to become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Law is a shining example of willpower and taking your destiny into your own hands. Only a few cornerbacks belong in the same conversation as Ty Law.
When you think of the great corners in NFL history, you typically think of Deion Sanders, Champ Bailey, Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, and… Ty Law (among others). To be mentioned in the same category as these all-time NFL legends speak volumes about how good Ty Law was; consider all the fantastic players that haven’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Even those outside Patriots’ Nation (specifically the induction committee for the Hall of Fame) consider Ty Law’s career to have been monumental. He’ll likely always be in the conversation for the top five best Patriots defenders.
Article to be continued soon in Part IV & V. Thanks for reading!
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