By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Some people were put on this earth to argue, debate, quibble and quarrel for all of eternity regarding various athletes’ worthiness for hall of fame induction.
I am not one of those people.
Frankly, the whole industry of hall of fame voting has always rubbed me the wrong way. From compromised reporters making cases for players with whom they have established deep relationships, to haughty voters who believe they are a superior species on account of their ability to play God with regard to hall of fame worthiness, the whole process is a muddy, tiring mess. And considering I stand to benefit in zero way from any hall of fame induction of any player or person, I generally avoid the matter as much as possible.
That preamble exists only to spotlight that this story is only being written because the universe has dictated that it must. And this story must be written because Tajuan “Ty” Law absolutely needs to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. And it has to happen now.
Law was named a semifinalist for enshrinement on Tuesday evening. It marks the fifth time that Law has been named a semifinalist, and he was a finalist the past two years. He’s had to watch as players like Morten Andersen (a kicker), Terrell Davis (four good seasons), Kurt Warner (lost his starting job multiple times, had just two excellent seasons), Kenny Easley (what’s that one about, voters?) and others earn their busts in Canton.
This has to end this year.
Put Ty Law in the damn Hall of Fame.
You could point to some statistics and honors. His 53 interceptions, five Pro Bowls, two All-Pros — they’re all good. But the case for Ty Law can be made in one simple statement.
The NFL had to change its rules because of him.
The argument can begin and end there. Ty Law and the Patriots were so good at playing defense that the NFL decided to not allow it anymore.
And yet, after those rule changes went into effect, and after Law rehabbed from a foot injury at the age of 31, Law still turned in a 10-interception season.
There’s also a case to be made for his postseason prowess, considering postseason performances are the lone reason that Kurt Warner finds himself in Canton. (Seriously, peruse Kurt Warner’s stats. What on that page shouts “HALL OF FAMER”? Because I’m not seeing it.) The Patriots’ dynasty essentially began because Law was able to pick off Hall of Famer Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXVI. That pick-six put the first Patriots points on the board that night. The rest, well, you know, history.
That was just the precursor to the 2003 postseason, when Ty Law took future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning and undressed him on national television for all the world to see. That afternoon in Foxboro, in the AFC Championship Game, Ty Law caught three Peyton manning passes, matching Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison and actually having more interception return yards (26) than Harrison had receiving yards (19).
If that wasn’t a Hall of Fame performance — in a postseason game — then nothing is.
Law wasn’t a part of the 2004 Super Bowl run, having suffered a broken foot that cut his season short. But his mark on the Patriots’ run to three Super Bowl titles in four years was indelible.
Considering that Patriots team prevented the Rams from creating a dynasty of their own, one might reasonably believe that some players from those New England teams deserve enshrinement. Certainly the Rams have seen Warner, Marshall Faulk, and Orlando Pace inducted (as well as Aeneas Williams, though he spent the latter years of his career in St Louis.) Surely, the most dominant team of an era should have more than just the quarterback as a Hall of Fame representative.
Though, that lost point would suggest that the voters involved in the process rely on reason and careful thought when making their decisions. Yet their petty feud with Terrell Owens (a top-three receiver of all time who had to wait multiple years for induction because voters just plain didn’t like him and wanted to flex their sports writer “muscle”) and the whole preposterous Darren Sharper “debate” from a few years back shows just how badly Hall of Fame voting can devolve into silly season.
In any event, we’re getting lost in the weeds here. The bottom line is that Ty Law was and is a Hall of Fame football player. He was one of the best players of his era, at one of the most difficult positions in any sport. He was selected as a member of the Second Team for the 2000s All-Decade team — a decade which wasn’t even his best in the NFL.
Comparing one cornerback to another cornerback is always a specious endeavor, but I’ll grant you that cases can be made for Charles Woodson or Champ Bailey to be considered “better” cornerbacks than Law. At the same time, a case can be made for Law. Arguing about this guy or that guy misses the simplest point: just because other players are also great, it doesn’t mean that all the great players can get their proper recognition.
This year, Bailey finds himself as a semifinalist for the first time. He deserves to be put in the Hall of Fame. But he can wait. It’s time for Ty Law to have his day.