2019 Hall of Fame: Ty Law personified Patriots' rugged defense that helped start a dynasty

Yahoo Sports

The Pro Football Hall of Fame will formally welcome its Class of 2019 on Saturday. This week, Yahoo Sports is highlighting memorable moments for each member of the eight-man class, leading up to the big ceremony.

With his right hand raised and left hand dangling a football, Ty Law jogged into the end zone in the second quarter of Super Bowl XXXVI.

The Patriots defense was in the midst of stifling the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams in a 20-17 upset victory. The Super Bowl championship was the Patriots’ first of six, three of which were won with Law playing cornerback.

Ty Law's returned a Kurt Warner interception for a score in the Patriots' upset of the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl. (AP)
Ty Law's returned a Kurt Warner interception for a score in the Patriots' upset of the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl. (AP)

Across 15 seasons Law intercepted 53 passes and made five Pro Bowls while creating a reputation as a physical cornerback. He’s best known for contributing to the start of the Patriots dynasty in the Bill Belichick era but also spent time with the Jets, Chiefs and Broncos in the latter half of his career.

On Saturday he’ll formally become the 323rd member inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

“It’s special, man,” Law told Clutchpoints in June. “I think it’ll hit me even harder when that time actually comes when I’m inducted as a true member.”

Law credits his career to his rise from the streets of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. He went on to play in college at Michigan where he was an All-American in his third and final season with the Wolverines.

Law was selected in the first round of the 1995 NFL draft by the Patriots, and spent the first 10 seasons of his career in New England. Once Belichick took over in 2000, Law became the face of an aggressive defensive scheme.

The Patriots grabbed and tugged at receivers from the line of scrimmage, often stretching the boundaries on the NFL’s illegal contact rule, which prohibited contact beyond 5 yards past the line of scrimmage.

It came to a head in the 2003 season’s AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. On one play Law threw Marvin Harrison out of bounds when he was running a route and on several others he pushed and held receivers well beyond the first 5 yards of the line scrimmage.

The aggressive play worked. Law intercepted Manning three times in a 24-14 Patriots win.

That would be the last game defensive backs could play like Law, though. In the offseason following the 2003 season, the NFL competition committee, which included Colts head coach at the time Tony Dungy, made the illegal contact rule a point of emphasis.

And thus, in part due to Law and the Patriots, the NFL began its shift to passer-friendly rules.

“I mean when they start, I won’t say changing the rules, but changing the rules because of the way he plays then there’s probably something to be said for that,” Belichick said in 2017.

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