Ty Law
Page 2

Cornerback Ty Law has been a mainstay of New England's defense since joining the Patriots as a first-round pick out of Michigan in 1995. The three-time Pro Bowler is having another outstanding season, with two interceptions (including one returned for a TD) and 38 tackles for the 7-2 Patriots.

Ty Law
With Law knocking down passes, the Patriots have another shot at the Super Bowl.

As New England geared up for its big Sunday night showdown with the Cowboys (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET) and former coach Bill Parcells, Ty sat down with ESPN.com's Sheldon Spencer for 10 Burning Questions:

1. Everybody else in New England seems to have opinion about it: Did Grady Little leave Pedro in too long against the Yankees?

If he's your money guy, he's your best player, let him go out and do it. As far as leaving him in so long, I think (Pedro) knows his body better than anybody. If he feels he could go, let him go. I don't think it was bad managing at all. He's the man.

1B. Were you watching the game and were you shocked?

I thought they had a chance and I thought they were going to get over that whole curse. Actually, I took in one of the games in my first time at Fenway watching as a fan and spectator. I was really hoping they would bring it home. I know how much the city enjoyed it when we won the championship.

1C. Did you ever throw out an opening pitch?

(In 2002 after the Super Bowl victory) we all stood together and threw out an opening pitch. I threw to one of my favorite players, Rickey Henderson, who was also wearing No. 24 at the time.

Ty Law
Ty Law scored the first touchdown in the Patriots' Super Bowl win over the Rams.

2. How often do you watch your Super Bowl touchdown?

I never watch it. The only time I've ever watched it was on a highlight reel when we got together as a team. That's the only time I've watched it. I haven't even watched the game. I'll watch the game when I retire.

2B. Why not?

It's stuck in my mind as a memory. I want it to stay that way. I don't want see any flaws about anything I've done wrong. All I have is the vivid memory of scoring that touchdown, everything going the way we planned.

How about your first Super Bowl (loss to Green Bay)? Do you ever look at that?

Oh no, I haven't looked at that. I don't think I want to look at that, either. I don't think I'll do anything but get upset. But I think I can swallow it a little bit better now that we've gone back down to New Orleans. It was great we got to go back into that stadium, play against what I thought was a better football than we were, predicted to lose, and win. So I could watch it now, if I had to.

3. One of Sports Illustrated's writers, Paul Zimmerman, recently ranked the best cornerbacks in the league. He had Ronde Barber as the best cornerback of this era; Champ Bailey, Sam Madison, Patrick Surtain and Charles Woodson as the best "cover" corners; Antoine Winfield as the best playing the "force." Your name didn't come up. What's your response?

When Ty Law gets a chance to acknowledge his alma mater during "Monday Night Football"'s introductions, he makes it a point to say "Aliquippa High School" and not the University of Michigan.

Here's Law's version about the bitter way he left Michigan when he left after his junior season because of legitimate financial hardship, but with little understanding from Wolverines head coach Lloyd Carr.

"He didn't care for me leaving, and I wasn't welcomed back for a while," said Law of Carr, who was Michigan's defensive coordinator but replaced Gary Moeller as head coach for what would have been Law's senior season.

Law says Carr "actually told me -- and that's what I feed on until this day -- that I would never see the third round. And that kind of hurt me. I know I thought I was one of the better players here on the team."

Law said he left Michigan reluctantly; his grandfather filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and his family had other problems that needed addressing. The Patriots drafted Law in the first round, 23rd overall, and in 1999 signed a seven-year, $50 million contract extension.

Law says that, given his family situation, he would have expected Carr to give his blessing for leaving early.

"I didn't get any of that. And that's why I don't go back to that school. On 'Monday Night Football, I'll say I'm from Aliquippa (Pa.). The University of Michigan -- I had a great time, don't get me wrong, made some of my best friends there -- but it was just a pit stop."

Law said Carr knew about his family's dire financial straits. Carr left for a recruiting trip but asked Law not to make a decision about declaring until the coach returned. The deadline for declaring arrived, and Law wanted to speak to Carr about his situation.

Law said Carr "wouldn't take my call."

Law said that convinced him he was making the right decision. He claims he was not included on the "Wall Of Fame" in Michigan's football facility -- a mural featuring the school's All-Americans -- until his third year in the NFL.

"I was an All-American at the school. (Michigan) never would have seen Charles Woodson if it wasn't for me, because (Woodson) had committed to Florida State. But we (Carr and Law) just didn't get along while I was there."

Law said that fellow former Michigan star and Patriots teammate Tom Brady tried to smooth matters on an airplane. Carr was on a flight to Hawaii for the 2002 Pro Bowl with Brady and Law, and Brady encouraged Law to say something to Carr.

"I talk to him briefly, but it was still somewhat short," Law recalled. "I'm glad that he's having success, but I didn't get the same positive energy when I left compared to when Charles left."

Well, that writer should get fired (laughs). But you know what, that's a matter of a opinion. When you say all of those names, there's only one of those guys who had a Super Bowl ring, and I've played in two. I've had the Pro Bowls, but I didn't have the hype coming out. To be in the league nine years, not many of those guys can say that they did as much or more than I have, or have contributed as much to the team.

I'm not knocking anybody else, but a lot of guys are system players. But when you can go out there and take away half the field, and play as much man-to-man coverage as I do, those guys don't do that. Not one guy that you named covers the best man on the other side of the field week in, week out. I'm the only corner in the league, besides Deion Sanders, that's done that pretty much most of his career. I'm the only man that can claim that right now.

3B. Which are you better at, covering the run or the pass?

I think I'm more known for being a complete corner. Some guys are known for just being "cover" guys. Some guys are known for just being tacklers, being in a Cover-2 system. Ronde Barber, I think, is a great cornerback. But it's not that hard to play behind Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice, you know what I mean?

3C. To be fair to Zimmerman, in his next column he wrote that he got mail asking where Ty Law's name was.

I think I've been overlooked for a long time because I'm not as flamboyant as some. Maybe because when I came out of the University of Michigan I didn't have the projections of some of the other guys being top-5, top-10 picks. I think I've paid my dues. It took me nine interceptions and 37 pass breakups in one year to get my due. And that wasn't even my best season.

But I still think I got my just due. People around the league recognized what I brought to the table when I signed the biggest contract ever signed (by a cornerback). People can say what they want. But the money speaks louder than that.

4. Charles Woodson's comments about Raiders coach Bill Callahan made a lot of news. What was your immediate reaction those statements?

My immediate reaction was, "Whoo, Charles, tone it down." But you have to respect a man who speaks his opinion. But there's a time and a place. Being that things are not going great now in Oakland, the perception is that he's the bad seed because they are not winning. You can get away with saying a lot of things when you're winning. But right now the Oakland Raiders are not living up to expectations. And when you have a player, even as great a player as Charles Woodson, saying things about the coaches, it turns a lot people off.

Being that it is his contract year, I don't think that will affect him that much. But there might be one coach out there who might be interested in acquiring Charles Woodson -- and I'm just speculating -- (who will think), "Hey, if he's going to do that when we're not winning, he's going to make me lose my job. I'm going to pass. I can get a cheaper guy anyway and he'll play pretty decent."

It's been a very big topic. But the shoe is finally on the other foot, because coaches have been doing that for years.

4B. How often do you two talk about The Snow Bowl?

He does not like to talk about that. He wouldn't even speak to me for a minute. I actually rubbed it in a little bit. After the game, we tried to meet up at the (Raiders') bus. I said, "Where's Charles at?" He wouldn't come off the bus. So I went up on the bus and said, "Charles, come here and holla at your boy." Everybody's looking at me. (Woodson didn't respond.)

Everybody on the Oakland Raider bus wanted to be beat me up that day, but I had my boys out there, so I wasn't worried about it. But it was an emotional game. Charles is a winner.

4C. Let's say a scenario comes up and you guys wind up on the same roster. Who takes No. 24?

I guess I've been in the league the longest, I'll have to take No. 24. I'll put it to you this way. If he were to come to New England and I'm still here, he's going to have to get another number. We possibly both will be free agents at the end of this year. If I was to go to Oakland, I'd have to say, OK, you made '24' here in Oakland. This is your city.

5. Are you superstitious?

Yes, very. If a black cat crosses me, I will back all the way up. I hate cats. I don't walk under ladders. I try not to break a mirror or look into a busted mirror.

5B. Where do you trace that all back to, any one incident?

You won't see Ty saying "Candyman" in front of a mirror.

Even though I'm a horror movie freak, you always take something back with you. I don't know anybody who will go look into a damn mirror, turn off the lights, close your eyes and say "Candyman" seven times! (laughing) I know I wouldn't do it. Are you crazy? That was a scary dude right there.

5C. Give us your three all-time favorite movies.

"Harlem Nights" is my No. 1. "The Godfather" and "Scarface." I love that whole gangster mentality. "Harlem Nights" brought a different mentality to it, brought the brothas to it.

6. What do you think of ESPN's "Playmakers"?

Actually, I do watch it. I'm not going to lie. Because I am a football player, I don't like the way some of us are portrayed. But it's entertainment. I understand the business part of it, but it's on there for entertainment, to make money. It's very cutting-edge. Every episode I can catch, I'm watching it.

Actually, it's pretty funny. You know, D.H. is hilarious. I've never seen anyone smoke crack and run for 100 yards! Having an interest in acting, I'd like to go on that show. I think it's funny. And I think more people watch it than they'll tell you. Everybody's having a conversation about it in the locker room.

6B. Union president Gene Upshaw has been one of the critics of the show. If the players' union barred the players from participating in it, would you abide by that?

If the union and all players agreed to it, that's one thing. You stick with the union and your players. But if it was just (Upshaw and) the NFL saying no, I mean, this is our life. Unless we do it as a whole, they don't have any say so.

Ty Law
It's hard to top celebrating a Super Bowl win while wearing a mink.

7. Is this photo out of Dre's closet from the OutKast collection?

(laughing) That was a great time right there. We finally got that championship. And actually got Mr. Kraft (the Patriots' owner) to go out there and dance. That was the sight right there. It was a great time.

I always try to make a fashion statement here and there. I love movies, I love fashion, I love cars. You never know what I'm going to come with next. That's one of my minks. One day, I might have on jeans and T-shirt. The next time you see me, I might have on a suit. You never know.

7B. That's ONE of your minks? How many minks do you have?

I have three different minks. I have different skin coats, like alligator, ostrich. I like to change up my wardrobe. But I'm pretty much a simple guy. I like the seasons, being in a cold-weather place where you can put on your minks, your Timberland boots. I just like to change up a lot.

8. Who gets more play from the ladies, you or Tom Brady?

Well, that's a good one. I think Tom Brady right now. I got to give it to him. He's a little younger and I don't want to get myself in trouble (laughing). I'll let him be the ladies' man. I had my day. Super Bowl MVP and everything. He IS the most valuable PLAYER, and I put the emphasis on PLAYER (laughing).

9. You once said Isaac Bruce is the toughest WR to cover. You still maintain that?

His skills are superior to a lot of other receivers that I've covered. He ranks in the top five: Marvin Harrison, Isaac Bruce, Jimmy Smith, Randy Moss and I also like Torry Holt, he's a damn good receiver, too.

9B. Where's Terry Glenn rank?

I think Terry Glenn is in the top 10 in the league. But it's those little scatback receivers that I can't stand. Like Marvin Harrison, Antwaan Randle-El, or Santana Moss. Those guys are like a gnat. Running fast for no reason, even when they're not getting the ball.

10. Who's the better coach, Belichick or Parcells?

I wouldn't say either one is better. They're different. It depends on, as a team or as a unit, what you take to. Coach Belichick is more of an X's and O's guy. He can dissect each individual and put him in the right position to get the best out of him.

Coach Parcells is a manipulator of the mind. You know what I mean? He can make players overachieve. But if you can't take criticism, if you can't take strong words, you wouldn't be able to play for either one of them. They have contrasting styles, but they have similarities.

10B. Would you play for Parcells again?

I'd play for Parcells again -- after he's been there a couple of years (laughs). Now, if I was a free agent and I'm going in there where he's trying to rebuild a team, then, you know, I'm on my 10th or 11th year in the league, I'd have to think about it.

He can make a hell of a training camp. A lot of the guys that played with him that came back say he'll take a couple of years off your career because he'll really pound you in training camp. I'm no stranger to hard work. I'll do the running any way. But you've got to see which angle he's coming from. Is he expecting to win (right away)?

We had 21 straight two-a-day practices my second year here, which was somewhat unheard of. We made it to the Super Bowl and lost. But we were also in full pads in Super Bowl practice, hitting in full pads the week of practice. Other guys around the league were amazed.

But I came from a hard-nosed organization in high school, which is probably still the hardest organization I've ever played for, to be honest with you.


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