Ty Law (24) makes the game-changing interception and returns for a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVI. (AP)
FOXBORO — Ty Law and Darrelle Revis go way back. They both hail from the small, football-rich town of Aliquippa, Penn., the same town that has produced an extraordinary number of athletes.
Just in recent football lore alone, there’s been defensive tackle Sean Gilbert, Law and Revis. In past years, Mike Ditka and Tony Dorsett also hail from the Western Pennsylvania town. In basketball, there’s the late, great “Pistol” Pete Maravich and in baseball, pitcher Doc Medich.
So when Law knew that Revis would be a free agent in the offseason, the two talked and Law was pretty sure that New England would step up to the plate and offer him a deal. Law was also sure he could get more money – and years – elsewhere.
“Sometimes, learning from experience, I think he made an incredible decision to not go and take the money and have a chance to win because winning are the things that are going to be remembered for a long, long time when you get a chance to win a championship. So yeah, I’m glad he made the decision to come here and not go get the money,” Law said.
“I don’t want to say if I was influential or not, because it was ultimately his decision. I just had an opinion. I had to learn even from some of my own decisions I made. Sometimes, when you’re in the heat of battle, I didn’t have a mentor. The only person that I could depend on was me and make the decisions so some decisions I made were great and some decisions I made were not so great. If I can instill that and just tell him what I’ve been through, and same thing with my son, live and learn through me and take my mistakes and use those as a lesson as well. I think Darrelle ultimately did what was best for him but coming here was a great decision and I encouraged that.”
Revis agreed to a one-year, $12 million deal. Prove yourself in New England and millions more will follow. Of course, when Law left after the 2004 season, he had already proven himself to the tune of three Super Bowl titles. But the Patriots couldn’t afford his $12.5 million cap hit for the 2005 season and was released.
Law signed with the Jets for the 2005 season and had a career-high 10 interceptions and was the only Jet voted into the Pro Bowl. Law was released by the Jets after only one season as the Jets were a projected $26 million over the salary cap for 2006. Law was due to make $7.6 million for 2006. In came the Chiefs, who signed him to a five-year deal worth $30 million. He only saw two seasons in KC before being released, eventually playing one more time for the Jets and finishing in Denver in 2009.
Law and Revis have talked and joked about all of this before, as Revis is already working on his third team, himself.
“I talk to him very often, especially that he’s up here now. We live in the same community down in Florida. We train together. I’m there for Darrelle as much as possible. When he comes here, he comes by the house and we sit out in the back and talk because it goes beyond football with us. We’re from the same [town] and we can relate to each other on a different level other than just football.
“We’ve been through the same hardships, we’ve seen the same things, we played the same positions. It’s just been a great friendship, a great bond and I’m just here for him if he needs me. There are things from a football perspective that I can talk to him that big Uncle Sean [Gilbert] can’t because he was not a cornerback. He can talk about the NFL experiences and guide him in the right way in that aspect. But playing the cornerback position is different so we can definitely talk football on a different level. But it’s not all about that. Sometimes it’s just about life and growing up and maturing and winning.”
Law believes this much: if the Patriots stay healthy on defense, something woefully missing last season, they will be back in the big game in Glendale, Ariz.
“I think that was one of the weaker links in the defense for the last few years but now you’ve strengthened that five times with Darrelle Revis, and now you have [Brandon] Browner there and you think of Ninkovich getting another year of experience,” Law said Monday. “And with Wilfork, you have the different type of leadership. Chandler Jones with another year of experience. So, it’s going to be amazing what these guys can do and I think the key is to stay healthy. You can have all the talent in the world but if you can’t stay out there on the field, you’re going to be hurting your team.
“If these guys can stay healthy and the offense can continue putting up the numbers consistently the way they’ve been doing, and you’ve got Tom Brady leading the pack and you can protect him, good things are going to happen. They shored up the secondary and I think if they had had better secondary play, they would’ve had a championship last year.”
Fans have been wishing for a shutdown corner like Law ever since he left. Now, Law says, they finally have him.
“They got him now,” Law said. “I really do believe [they have another shut down corner]. People tend to remind you that you were a pretty good player. I look at it as I did my job, tried to do the best I could as a player. I think being an analyst now, looking at the team, that’s what they need, a marquis cornerback.
“They had one in Aqib Talib but it just wasn’t enough for whatever reason because I think he was a great cornerback but Darrelle is special. He’s a different level so when you look at the secondary now, look at another [No.] 24 out there and he’s that elite of a cornerback and football player, you can really see these guys getting over the hump again and bringing back home the trophy where I think it belong. We always strived to be champions and we were fortunate enough to achieve that three times.
“It’s been a long time. It’s high standards around here, high expectations so now I think they have some pieces to the puzzle so hopefully they can put it all together. But it feels good to still be mentioned as part of those championship teams. Some of the fans are so loyal. They let you know how much they appreciate it when I was playing and what I was able to do for the team.”
As for Law, he provided some insight to his likely Friday afternoon speech when he stands up in his new bright red jacket and addresses the crowd as the newest member of the Patriots Hall of Fame.
“This is always going to be home for me,” Law said. “I keep a home here. I’m here. I’m home. I will never have a home in Denver. I will never have a home in Kansas City. I will never have a home in New York. Those were pitstops as far as I’m concerned and I had some great experiences there as well for what it was worth. This is where I’m going down [in history] now and you guys helped me go down in history as one of the all-time greats to play in a Patriots uniform. This is home and I’m happy and hopefully, I can still do my job if I’m being an analyst. Deep down inside I have to be critical but I’m [rooting] for the Patriots every time.”