Change of direction for Law
All-Pro wants to remain a Patriot
FOXBOROUGH -- Ty Law never backpedaled so smoothly, which is saying something for a four-time Pro Bowl cornerback.
Three months ago yesterday, Law first told the Globe at a Route 1 restaurant a few miles north of Gillette Stadium that he didn't want to play for the Patriots anymore, that he couldn't see himself wearing the uniform again. He was asked in that nearly two-hour conversation, in light of his stated desire to leave, whether he would boycott training camp. He then uttered his now-infamous "we all gotta eat" response. Yesterday, attempting to put behind an offseason of controversy, Law, while not apologizing, spent several minutes after the team's first practice of its mandatory minicamp eating some of his words.
Law, who several times this offseason publicly accused coach Bill Belichick and vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli of "lying" to him during negotiations over a contract extension, said yesterday he would like to retire with the team that two years ago he asked to place him on the expansion list and that in February he offered to pay in exchange for his freedom. Law and Belichick made up before yesterday morning's workout.
"It was a good meeting," Law said, withholding additional details, other than that the session concluded with a handshake. "I don't want to get into details, but we settled differences, and now we're out to accomplish the same mission. We're world champions, so you can't be upset or mad too long."
Added Law, "Things happen. This is a business. But when we're out there as a team together, we're all trying to accomplish the same thing. And that's to bring home another championship. I'm a Patriot, and I'm glad to be here.
"This is home for me. This is the only place I know. I'm glad to be part of the tradition and the history, and hopefully I can continue to be . . . This is where I started, and this is where I want to finish. If that happens, I'll love it. If it doesn't, I'll still be playing football somewhere else."
Belichick said, "I will just say where we are now is, it's my job to coach the team and get the team ready for the opener and the regular season. It's his job to prepare to play. I expect both of us will do that."
Law, who is under contract for two more years at hefty salary cap charges of about $10.21 million and $12.56 million, once was adamant about playing elsewhere after the Patriots "insulted" him with a four-year, $26 million offer that included a $6.6 million signing bonus and two guaranteed years, then cut off the negotiations when Law's agent countered with a proposal of seven years, $63 million, and $20 million to sign. Though Law said he would take less from another team, he also said he would not hold out in protest and forfeit a $1 million reporting bonus or any of his $6.15 million salary.
"I can't do a thing about it but express my displeasure about playing for this organization," Law said in March when asked if he would be a no-show for camp. "I'll go to training camp. I've got bonuses for going to training camp. I'm just saying it won't be a comfortable working atmosphere. It's not a reason to hold out. I get $1 million just to show up. Who wouldn't show up for $1 million? The money ain't the thing, because I have that. Then again, I'm not going to sit here and say I don't want $7 million, either. That's stupid. Hell, we all gotta eat."
Yesterday Law claimed he was misinterpreted. Asked to be more specific, he said, "You all know what was taken out of context. Like, for instance, the one you all got a big kick out of, `I gotta eat.' C'mon, man. I've been eating well for a long time. But people didn't understand the question that was asked, `Would I hold out of camp?' I was like, `Why would I hold out of camp?' First of all, I thought it was an ignorant question, because I never threatened to hold out or asked for more money in the first place. I made a comment that I have a family, I have children, and I said, `We gotta eat.' And that's the only thing everyone heard. But nobody ever heard the question that was asked. It's like, `Why would I hold out of training camp or minicamp? This is my job."
Law, whose offseason also included an April 17 arrest in Miami for allegedly running from police during a traffic stop, said in March that he wasn't "chasing money," but rather seeking security after seeing friend Lawyer Milloy get released for cap reasons last September. Yet Law, who was a unanimous All-Pro selection last season, also said in that interview he deserved to be the game's highest-paid cornerback, a distinction he no longer holds (Champ Bailey). Agent Carl Poston's proposal was similar to Bailey's deal with Denver in terms of length and total value, but with $2 million more in bonuses.
"People took a story and ran with it, but that's what you guys do," Law said yesterday. "You guys do your job, and I guess I've gotta do mine. That's why I came out and said what I had to say [on Channel 4's `Sports Final' May 23] so more people could see me say it instead of just somebody writing it down with a pen and paper and dissecting it as they will."
Law, in the penultimate year of his seven-year, $51 million deal, was asked if he would like to reopen negotiations with the Patriots.
"It's not about contracts," he said. "That's what started everything in the first place. I'm under contract. Like I said from Day 1, I was always willing to stand up to the contract I currently have. I never had a problem with it. As long as I'm playing under that contract, I'm more than happy.
"[A new contract is] not even important right now. If that happens, it happens. The most important thing right now is to go out there, get myself back into shape, and help those guys defend this championship because we earned it, and I'm very glad that I'm a part of this team right now."
Law expects to be one of the most scrutinized members of the team.
"I know I'm going to feel the pressure, but ya'll know I love that. Criticize me, put the magnifying glass on me when I'm out there on the field, I live for stuff like that. I'm going to prove to Patriot Nation and prove to my teammates that Ty Law's still here and I'm going to play just as hard as I have. I'm out there, I'm for this team, I'm about winning."
As of yesterday morning, Law had one more important order of business.
"I haven't talked to Mr. [Robert] Kraft yet, and I'm looking forward to the day that I do talk to him," Law said. "I have a lot of respect for Mr. Kraft. He's treated me very good during my tenure here. Myself and Coach Belichick, we had our differences and we talked them out. It's time to move on."
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.