The New England Patriots of the early 2000s won three Super Bowls in a four-year span and established themselves as the NFL’s first and only dynasty of the salary cap era. Along the way, they changed the game on both offense and defense — with one player in particular personifying the latter: Ty Law, who was one of the most physical and successful press-man cornerbacks of his era and one of the reasons the league changed its rulebook.
Because of his impact on the game of football, his role on three championship teams and his high level of play over the course of his entire 15-year career, Law was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the eve on New England’s latest Super Bowl victory. The 45-year-old thus became the first core member of the early dynasty to earn himself a gold jacket and recognition among the greatest players in pro football history.
And according to the man himself, other members of the Patriots should join him in the Hall of Fame sooner rather than later. “I think I should be the first of a few more,” Law said during a recent appearance on the Adam Schefter Podcast. The five-time Pro Bowler who also spent time with the New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos knows, however, that it will not be easy given how the Patriots organization is perceived.
“For whatever reason, and I think it’s still like that today, as much winning as [the Patriots] are continuing to do, it’s like we’re looked at as a team,” Law said about the club with which he spent the first ten seasons of his career. “It’s like there’s no other players worthy of that — at least from the media perspective — when it comes to the Patriots. It’s Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, everybody else. I didn’t know what people thought about me and the rest of us.”
Law certainly has a point. There have been only a few constants during New England’s unprecedented two-decade run of excellence, with quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick the most notable ones. The pieces around them, meanwhile, changed on a regular basis — the success did not, however. This, in turn, has created a wide-spread view that everybody not named Brady or Belichick is a fungible commodity.
“Tom Brady, greatest of all time, there’s no doubt about that. There’s no question about coach Belichick,” continued Law. “But when you hear about how our team is it was to me: ‘We’ve got a hell of a lot players that can play. We can’t do it by just two guys.’ But I think we were molded like this through perception in the media that there was probably no other Hall of Fame players outside of that — which now we know is totally wrong.”
As Law pointed out, New England’s dynastic run saw numerous players wearing the team’s colors worthy of entering the Hall of Fame conversation. Richard Seymour, for example, was a cornerstone of the team’s defensive line for eight years and a Hall of Fame finalist in his first year of eligibility. He will eventually get in given how far he already advanced this year. Others such as Willie McGinest and Rodney Harrison also appear to have strong cases.
Ultimately, Law will be proven right: he will be the first key member of the 2000s Patriots to make the Hall of Fame, but he won’t remain the only one. The question is how long it will take until voters recognize others for their contributions to the league’s most dominant team of the last almost 20 years.