FOXBOROUGH — Before Darrelle Revis ever entered the NFL, there was a shutdown cornerback making the No. 24 New England Patriots uniform look great.
On Friday, the Patriots inducted that cornerback, Ty Law, into the Patriots Hall of Fame.
The event included speeches from President and CEO Robert Kraft, Jonathan Kraft, and panel discussions featuring former teammates Kevin Faulk, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, Otis Smith, Rodney Harrison and Lawyer Milloy.
During his playing days, Ty Law was regarded around the NFL for his physical style of play, dominating an opposing team's best receiver by jamming him off his route at the line of scrimmage. This technique eventually caused the NFL to emphasize the rule disallowing illegal contact after a receiver got five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
Among some, it became known as the "Ty Law rule."
"Can there be a higher compliment to a defensive back?" said Kraft. "No one ever referred to it as the Deion Sanders [rule], or the Champ Bailey [rule]. While Ty was great at defending receivers deep downfield, he differentiated himself from all cornerbacks with his physical play within the first five yards of the line of scrimmage — and a little more...just a little."
It wasn't just his physical style of play that earned him attention. He always seemed to make the big play in the big moment. Fans who gathered at Gillette Stadium got to watch Law repeatedly intercept then-Colts quarterback Peyton Manning three times in the AFC Championship game to help lift the Patriots to their second Super Bowl.
"I think it was the big stage in general," said Bruschi of how Law was always able to hold such an advantage over Manning. "He never was intimidated by what the other team had done, or their individual statistics, or the score, or anything like that."
Law had his own share of individual statistics, though. In 1998, he became the first Patriot in NFL history to lead the league in interceptions with nine. In 1999, Law became the highest paid cornerback in NFL history.
A few players talked about the hard work that Law put in every day. Bruschi told a story about how Law would be running along Route 1 in Foxborough before practice wearing all sweats in the dead of summer.
Law had plenty of people to thank for his rise to NFL stardom, but despite all the hard work he put in, Law said he owes his induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame to one group of people.
"The only reason that I'm standing here right now today is because of the Patriot Nation, you the fans," he said. "You voted for me. That's the only reason. There's no teammates, there's no coaches. The fans are what got me up here so I can put on this red jacket.
"And with that being said, ain't no coming back now, Mr. Kraft. I was waiting for that call, but I got this jacket on, so I guess it's over. I was still holding out a little bit of hope every now and again that I would wake up, get that call to come back and play five or six plays."