On the other end of the line Thursday afternoon was Ty Law — excuse me, Pro Football Hall of Famer Ty Law.
“It’s got a nice little ring to it, huh?” Law said. “To be honest, it still hasn’t sunk in like that yet. I’m a little under the weather from all the hoopla and traveling.”
The hoopla began last Saturday, when the former 15-year NFL cornerback was one of seven elected to the Hall of Fame for 2019. Law, who won three Super Bowl titles in 10 seasons with the Patriots, earned induction in his third year as a finalist.
The party continued on Sunday, when Law watched his Patriots defeat the Rams in the Super Bowl, just like they did 17 years ago to kick off this dynasty in New England.
And the celebration kept going on Tuesday, when Law rode with the Krafts in their duck boat at the Patriots’ championship parade in Boston.
“You couldn’t have written a better script,” Law said of last weekend. “I’m still riding this wave right now.”
Law arrived in Atlanta a week ago Thursday night hopeful for election, but nervous and unsure. His résumé was certainly worthy — 53 interceptions, seven touchdowns, five Pro Bowls, and three Super Bowl titles — but there were 14 other qualified finalists, as well.
“Lynn Swann waited 14 years. Jerome Bettis five years. Hey, it happens,” Law said.
Law was hanging in his hotel room at the Hyatt Regency on Saturday with about a dozen family members when David Baker from the Hall of Fame knocked on the door.
“I came out there and I said, ‘This better not be no [gosh darn] room service!’ ” Law said. “And I opened up the door and it was David Baker. Tears of joy were flowing throughout the room. It all worked out, and I was so blessed to be able to share that with all five of my kids, my mom, my dad, and just everybody was there to support me. They were more excited than I was.”
Former Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, Law’s teammate in 2009, was considered by voters a near-lock to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Law credited Boston-based Hall of Fame voter Ron Borges for making a convincing case that Law’s résumé was just as good as Bailey’s.
This year’s class is the first time four defensive backs will be inducted: Law, Bailey, Ed Reed, and Johnny Robinson. Tony Gonzalez, Kevin Mawae, Pat Bowlen, and Gil Brandt will also be inducted at this August’s ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
Law declined to say who will present him at the ceremony, saying he would prefer to keep it private for now. But he is excited to be inducted on the same day as Bailey, who also played 15 NFL seasons. “I get to go in with my friend and former teammate,” Law said. “There’s only 326 people in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and I’m one of them. I think I’m No. 323. How awesome is that?”
Law also becomes the first player from the early Patriots dynasty to earn induction into the Hall of Fame. Richard Seymour was a finalist this year, and Law hopes that Seymour, Willie McGinest, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison, and Vince Wilfork will all receive Hall calls in the future.
“I’m honored to be the first, and I think this is very important that I got in, so it could open up the doors for those guys,” Law said. “It’s not just Bill Belichick and Tom Brady and Robert Kraft. I think there’s other guys out there that deserve it.”
In addition to being a special guest at the Super Bowl, Law stayed in Atlanta for “Measurement Monday” — when Hall of Fame officials take measurements for his gold jacket and ring, and measured his head for his official bust. Later this spring Law will fly out to Utah to sit in a chair for seven or eight hours while his bust, made out of clay and dipped in bronze, is made.
“These things are supposed to last 40,000 years or something like that. It’s crazy,” Law said.
The toughest part of becoming a Hall of Famer — changing his signature. “I was asked to do some autographs and I’m so used to just doing ‘Ty Law 24,’ ” he said. “And they’re like, ‘No, can you put HOF?’ It’s like, you don’t even know how to do it, I got to figure it out. So it’s pretty awesome.”
Law said as soon as he got the Hall call, he knew the Patriots would beat the Rams on Sunday. After all, last year it was Brian Dawkins getting elected to the Hall of Fame, not Law, and the Eagles won the Super Bowl.
Then Law got to party with Snoop Dogg, Meek Mill, and Ludacris at the Patriots’ after party, and ride on the Krafts’ duck boat on Tuesday.
“We did it big,” Law said.
Until the induction ceremony in August, Law will be working on his primary business, as a co-founder of Launch Trampoline Park, a family entertainment business that also has laser tag, ninja courses, bowling, and go karts. Law works out of Launch’s Warwick, R.I., headquarters and is hoping to expand to 40 locations across the country by the end of this year.
“Work is keeping me busy,” Law said. “We’re building our little empire right here.”
And come August, Law will put on that gold jacket for the first time, and will forever be known as a Hall of Famer.
“It’s a dream come true, because it’s something that I always said I wanted to achieve when my career was done,” Law said. “I’m living my best life, bro.”
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Patriots’ defense in Bowl rates high
A few leftover thoughts from Super Bowl LIII:
■ The Patriots authored one of the great defensive performances in Super Bowl history, holding the high-flying Rams (32.9 points per game in the regular season) to 3 points. After some research and consideration of the current era of offensive football, I’m ranking this as the third-best defensive performance in Super Bowl history:
1. Seahawks over Broncos, 43-8, in Super Bowl 48. Seahawks shut down the highest-scoring offense in NFL history, and score on a safety and a 69-yard pick-6.
2. Patriots over Rams, 20-17, in Super Bowl 36: Patriots hold The Greatest Show on Turf to 17 points and force three turnovers, including a Ty Law pick-6.
3. Patriots over Rams, 13-3, in Super Bowl 53: Patriots hold the Rams 29 points below their season average. But taking down Jared Goff is not the same as Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk.
4. Giants over Bills, 20-19, in Super Bowl 25: That’s three Bill Belichick games in the top four. Thurman Thomas gets his rushing yards, but Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, and the Bills’ No. 1 offense do nothing.
5. Ravens over Giants, 34-7, in Super Bowl 35: Utter domination. The Ravens scored a pick-6, held the Giants to 152 total yards, and the Giants’ only points came on a 97-yard kickoff return.
■ Of all the mic’d up clips from last week, the best one came from NFL Turning Point on the crucial pass breakup Jason McCourty made on Brandin Cooks in the end zone in the fourth quarter. The clip showed how the Patriots’ Cover 4 defense was susceptible to the Rams’ route combination, and that earlier in the game Cooks strode wide open down the middle of the field.
The Rams’ coaches noticed it, and told Cooks they would go back to the play again at some point. The Patriots’ coaches noticed it, and Brian Flores told McCourty on the bench to make sure he drifts over to the middle of the field to protect against it.
Sure enough, the Rams called the play again in the fourth quarter, the Patriots’ coverage was susceptible again, but McCourty had shaded over to the middle of the field just enough to be able to race back and make the crucial pass breakup in the back of the end zone.
Of course, there was a little luck involved, too. NFL Next Gen Stats showed that Goff didn’t throw the ball until Cooks was already on the goal line, well behind the defense. “I saw it late,” Goff told coach Sean McVay on the sideline, per Turning Point, giving McCourty an extra half second to get there. If Goff recognizes the coverage sooner, that’s a touchdown.
■ What do the last three Super Bowl MVPs have in common? None of them played in their team’s first four games of the season — Julian Edelman (suspended), Nick Foles (backup), Tom Brady (suspended). Foles, of course, sat 13 games as Carson Wentz’s backup.
■ Patrick Chung is arguably the most versatile player on the defense, and his broken arm in the third quarter forced the Patriots to remove a personnel package from their call sheet.
“Pat going down is a way bigger adjustment than anybody [else] on our defense,” Devin McCourty said after the game. “We had to actually jump out of a package, because Pat plays linebacker, safety, and inside corner. You can’t just replace that.”
■ The Patriots’ Super Bowl win would normally guarantee them the NFL kickoff game on the first Thursday night of the season, but an NFL spokesman said that for next season’s NFL 100 celebration, the league is considering several matchups for that game, including Packers-Bears.
Nothing has been set yet, and if the Patriots don’t get the kickoff game, they will open the season at home on “Sunday Night Football.” Either way, their home schedule provides the NFL with some fantastic options for the Patriots to open the season in prime time.
The one that jumps out is an AFC Championship game rematch with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. But how about a visit from America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys? Or pitting Brady against the NFL’s hottest young gun, Baker Mayfield, and the Browns? They could go with old reliable, Big Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Even a visit from Eli Manning (maybe?) and the Giants would be interesting.
Key dates ahead for the offseason
Now that the offseason has arrived, let’s take a look at the key dates for the next few months:
■ Feb. 19 to March 5 is the window for teams to place the franchise or transition tag on players. The Patriots have a few who would qualify for the franchise tag, in theory — DE Trey Flowers, LT Trent Brown, K Stephen Gostkowski, and P Ryan Allen. Of the four, Gostkowski makes the most sense, as he has been tagged before. Brown might make some sense at $14 million for one year, but more likely the Patriots would let him walk and insert Isaiah Wynn into the lineup.
■ March 11 is the start of the “legal tampering” period of free agency. Teams are allowed to speak with players on other teams, but they’re not supposed to talk numbers yet (wink, wink).
■ March 13 at 4 p.m. is the start of the new league year. Free agents can officially sign with any team. Trades can be executed. Teams have to be compliant with the salary cap.
■ March 24-27 are the owners’ meetings in Phoenix. We’ll see if any rules are proposed about using the instant replay system to challenge penalties.
■ Offseason workouts begin April 1 for teams with new coaches, and April 15 for teams with returning head coaches.
■ April 25-27 is the NFL Draft in Nashville.
Basketball a no-no for Mahomes
The Chiefs heard Patrick Mahomes was playing pickup basketball last week, and general manager Brett Veach called Mahomes’s agents to “nip that in the bud,” he said on 810 WHB. Mahomes’s contract doesn’t specifically forbid him from playing pickup basketball, and if he really wants to play, he is certainly free to ignore their request.
But Mahomes’s contract does contain an addendum stating that he would be in default of his contract, and the Chiefs could void his guarantees, if he seriously injures himself participating in: “including, but not limited to, water or snow skiing, jet skiing, surfing, hang gliding, bungee jumping, diving, sky diving, scuba diving, rock or mountain climbing, boxing, basketball, race car driving as driver or passenger, riding a motorcycle, motor bike, all-terrain or similar vehicle as driver or passenger, use of firearms, professional wrestling, or the like.”
This language is fairly common in NFL contracts.
It’s starting to look like the Raiders will play one final season in Oakland — not because the team wants to play there, but because no one else wants them. The Raiders want to play in the Giants’ Oracle Park, but the San Francisco mayor doesn’t want the traffic and congestion, and the 49ers aren’t interesting in giving up their territorial rights over their city. And the NFL said that San Diego isn’t an option. So it’s either work out a deal with the 49ers and use their stadium for a year, or figure out something with Oakland for one more season. The latter seems the most reasonable outcome . . . After two years as an offensive assistant and special teams coach in Houston, Wes Welker is joining the 49ers as their receivers coach. The 49ers have no obvious Patriots connection, other than John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan are both well regarded by Bill Belichick . . . New Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith is the son of Fred Smith, the billionaire founder of FedEx . . . New Bengals coach Zac Taylor hired Braintree’s Jim Turner as offensive line coach. Turner coached with Taylor for four years at Texas A&M and two in Miami, and this is Turner’s first NFL job since he was fired in 2013 for his role in the Dolphins’ Bullygate episode . . . The Cardinals on Friday announced the hiring of a new salary-cap and contract guy, Matt Harriss. He was previously with the Lions. In January, the Lions hired a new salary-cap and contracts guy, Mike Disner. He was previously with the Cardinals . . . In a sign of how far Boston College has come in recent years, a school-record seven players were invited to the NFL Scouting Combine later this month in Indianapolis, including five from its defense. The NFL invited 338 draft hopefuls to the Combine, including Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray, who has not committed to attending. Other than BC, the New England colleges are not represented well this year. UMass receiver Andy Isabella is the only other invitee, with none from UConn and, in a departure from recent years, none from the Ivy League . . . As for Murray, this game of will-he-or-won’t-he is getting a bit tiresome, but good for him for maximizing his leverage. Ultimately, it only works if he fully commits to football. If he continues to keep one foot in both doors, it will scare away football teams from considering him with a first-round pick. Murray has a football Pro Day scheduled for March 13, and likely needs to make a decision by then.