BOSTON (CBS) — Generally, when an athlete looks back on his career, he’ll tell you with a straight face that he has no regrets about anything that happened over the course of his career. He’ll often be lying.
Ty Law, though, in an honest story for The Players’ Tribune, shared one decision that he still deeply regrets to this day. That decision was the one he made to give the Heisman pose to Bill Belichick, instead opting to sign with Eric Mangini and the New York Jets.
Law recalled a meeting he had with Belichick, which was facilitated by Tom Brady and took place in secret, in the parking lot of some restaurant in Rhode Island.
“It’ll feel like you’re doing a damn drug deal,” Law described.
He and Belichick ironed out the framework for a contract, which would have brought Law back to New England — the place where he was drafted and the place where he won Super Bowls. But when Belichick called Law later, the coach said the numbers didn’t quite work. That’s when Law made a decision he still regrets.
Here are the words from Law, who wrote the story in the form of a letter to his younger self:
Now, I need you to listen to me close right here. See, when people get older and they’ve had time to reflect like I have, most say they have no regrets. Like, if they could go back, they wouldn’t change a damn thing, because it’s all part of their story and it made them who they are today and this and that. For the most part, I’m like that, too.
But if I could go back to that phone conversation with Coach Belichick, I would say, “Well, tell me what you can make work and let’s do the deal.”
But you won’t do that.
Instead, you’ll get pissed off. It won’t be about the money, it’ll be about the principle. The whole thing will just rub you the wrong way.
So what will you do?
You’ll call up your old DBs coach from New England, Eric Mangini. He’s moved on to become the Jets’ head coach, and he’s waiting for your call. It’s a Tuesday. You’ll drive to New York that night, take a physical on Wednesday, sign that same day and suit up for the Jets for Thursday Night Football.
Against the Patriots.
You’ll win that game, too. And for a moment, you’ll feel vindicated. You’ll shake Coach Belichick’s hand after the game. And even though there will be no hard feelings and you’ll have a great relationship with him afterwards, a little part of you will feel good that you stuck it to him in that game.
A couple of years later, when your career is over, you’ll hold off for a long time on filing your retirement papers, hoping to get another call from Coach Belichick, asking you to come back and sign a one-day contract — maybe even get a few more plays in a Patriots uniform before it’s all over.
But that call will never come.
Your ego will be one of the things that makes you great. Your confidence will lead you to accomplish some incredible things in life.
But that day, on the phone with coach?
Your ego will get in the way.
Just take the deal, bro.
And go home.
The full story is a fascinating read. But the underlying message is clear: Don’t ever choose Mangini over Belichick. You’ll regret it.