FOXBOROUGH -- He made the proclamation a year and a half ago, but it wasn't until yesterday that his wish came true. Officially, Ty Law is no longer a Patriot.
Law signed a multiyear contract with the New York Jets yesterday, placing the former Patriot Pro Bowl cornerback on New England's foremost division rival, the only other AFC East team to make the playoffs last season.
Though Law turned down a four-year, $24 million offer from New England last year, the Patriots hadn't ruled out re-signing the cornerback, coach Bill Belichick said.
''He hadn't signed with anybody else up until today," Belichick said. ''Anything could happen.
''We expected that Ty would be playing football this year. If it's with the Jets, then it's with the Jets. It's not really in our control. I have a lot of respect for what he's done here in his career here."
Belichick said he spoke with Law on a few occasions, ''but we never talked about any contract or anything like that."
The 31-year-old Law missed the final nine games last season and all of the playoffs after fracturing the Lisfranc joint in his left foot, an injury that might have lingering effects. The Lisfranc joint connects the instep of the foot to the big toe, and fracturing it is nearly akin to tearing the Achilles' tendon. Law underwent surgery in the offseason that included inserting screws, then removing them via another surgery.
Red Sox first baseman John Olerud returned from the same injury this season after surgery and months of rehab. Olerud's doctor, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid publicity, said in June that the injury would be debilitating for an NFL player, particularly one who plays cornerback.
The injury is particularly harmful if not diagnosed correctly and expeditiously, the doctor said. That could be bad news for Law, who told cnnsi.com that Patriots medical personnel misdiagnosed him, and he didn't realize he had the Lisfranc injury until visiting a foot specialist. Olerud's doctor said the injury would have ended Olerud's career had it not been diagnosed properly or if Olerud relied on his speed for success.
Still, the Jets were willing to give Law an incentive-laden deal reportedly worth as much as $50.5 million over seven years.
And he's eager to prove he's worth it.
''I think I have something to prove all the time anyway, that's just my mind-set," Law said at a news conference at the Jets training camp facility in Hempstead, N.Y. ''It's how I approach the game. I can hold my head up high and say I've had a pretty good career thus far, and I'm going to continue that. I have a lot left to give. I'm going to prove to all the doubters, if there are any out there, that I'm still the best cornerback in football."
Law joins another former Patriot, running back Curtis Martin, in New York. The two remained great friends after Martin followed Bill Parcells to the Jets, and they spoke often during Law's negotiating process with New York. He'll also reunite with former Patriots cornerback Corwin Brown, now the Jets' secondary coach.
''This was definitely my first choice from the beginning," Law said.
Perhaps the Patriots would have liked to see Law land elsewhere, his ex-teammates expressed no concern about facing him twice a year.
''That's part of going to war," said safety Rodney Harrison, who spoke with Law yesterday. ''That's part of transition in the National Football League. You face former teammates. We don't play until December. So who cares?"
Drafted by New England in 1995, Law spent 10 years with the Patriots, and was considered by many the league's best corner during several of them. He won three Super Bowls and made four Pro Bowls playing an aggressive, physical brand of defense.
At times, Law was a controversial figure around Gillette Stadium, never afraid to speak his mind or grant himself the title of best cornerback in the league. During the 2004 offseason, Law expressed disgust with his contract, famously saying, ''I no longer want to be a Patriot," and that ''Hell, we all gotta eat."
But he showed up in training camp and played dutifully under Belichick until getting injured. He is leaving with a positive impression in the minds of his former teammates, most of whom call Law a friend.
''Everybody knows what type of player he is -- Pro Bowl player, great competitor on and off the field," receiver Deion Branch said. ''He's a great teacher. I learned a lot from him and I'm sure some of the guys with the Jets are going to learn some things from him, too."
''I'm happy for Ty," Harrison said. ''I'm happy that he got a chance to finish his career where he wanted to be. He went to war for us. He gave everything that he had. He can finish up, get a contract, and retire when he wants to retire. He's happy."
Jerome Solomon of the Globe staff contributed to this report.