Patriots’ Ty Law elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame
ATLANTA — Ty Law waited in his hotel room Saturday, thinking back on the last two years, when the same wait ended in disappointment. Then came the knock on the door.
“This better not be no damn room service,” Law said.
It wasn’t. The knock was David Baker, the Pro Football Hall of Fame president, informing Law that he’d been selected to the Hall as a member of its class of 2019.
“Everything just left my body,” said the former Patriots cornerback. “The emotion, I tried to tell myself, ‘You ain’t going to cry on TV.’ But I lost that bet.”
Law, who played for New England from 1995-2004, had tears in his eyes as his selection was announced Saturday. Of the 15 modern-era finalists the Hall’s selection committee discussed Saturday, Law’s candidacy provoked the longest debate, taking more than 27 minutes, according to Matt Maiocco, one of the voters.
Law had plenty going for his candidacy: 53 career interceptions, a history of playing his best in the biggest moments, five Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro selections, three Super Bowl rings, and a letter of recommendation from Tom Brady. But he’d missed the cut the last two years and was now part of a group that included Ed Reed and Champ Bailey, who threatened to leapfrog Law should the selection committee decline to select three defensive backs in the same class year.
All three wound up making it, with tight end Tony Gonzalez and center Kevin Mawae rounding out the five modern-era players in the class.
“I think I would be a fool not to doubt because I’ve been here the last few years and it didn’t happen. So yes, I did have my doubts,” Law said.
Law got the knock he’d been waiting for, but the other former Patriot among the 15 modern-era finalists, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, will have to wait longer. Seymour missed the cut in his first year as a finalist.
“[D]on’t let today’s disappointment cast a shadow on tomorrow’s dreams . . . although my nomination bid into the HOF fell a bit short,” Seymour wrote on Twitter. “I am forever grateful to have been nominated and a part of the process. [C]ongrats to well deserving and newly elected members.”
Law said he’d told Seymour earlier in the nomination process to enjoy it and stay patient. He said he believes Seymour will eventually earn a spot in Canton, a place he thinks more players from the early days of the Patriots dynasty belong.
“I need some company,” Law said. “I felt like for a long time that the Patriots weren’t getting their just due.”
Law was especially grateful to one former teammate, Brady, for writing a letter to the committee on his behalf.
“For him to look at me and say the things that he said about me, I can never be more thankful and repay him for that because he didn’t have to do that,” Law said. “He has a game to play.”
Brady called Law a “tenacious tackler and one of the game’s greatest bump-and-run defenders” in the letter.
“He always wanted to defend the opponent’s best receiver and typically took them out of the game,” Brady wrote. “He was great at knocking a receiver off his route, baiting quarterbacks into bad reads, and capitalizing on ill-fated throws.”
Brady went on to mention Law’s 36 interceptions as a Patriot, which tied a franchise record, and his performances in Super Bowl XXXVI and the 2003 AFC Championship game where he intercepted Peyton Manning three times.
For Law, whose three years as a finalist have coincided with three trips to the Super Bowl for the Patriots, the fact that his selection coincides with a Patriots-Rams Super Bowl, the same matchup as the one that got him his first ring, adds significance.
“I mean, you couldn’t write this script,” Law said.
“It’s very surreal to be able to get this honor while my former team is playing and to play the team that started it off is, like I said, you couldn’t have wrote this script any better for me.”