Ty Law, a finalist for the Patriots Hall of Fame with Raymond Clayborn and Bill Parcells, said being named a finalist was the last thing he expected right now.
“It’ll mean a lot,” Law said. “It’ll put the icing on the cake as far as my playing career with the Patriots.”
Law played 10 seasons for the Patriots before moving on to play for the New York Jets, Kansas City Chiefs, and Denver Broncos. But his heart, he said, was always in New England.
“Coming back full circle now and being considered one of the Patriots’ all-time [greats], is very humbling to me,” he said. “I left and I played on different teams, but my heart was always with the Patriots regardless of where I was at. It’s an amazing feeling. I’m never one to be too lost on words, but I am right now. It’s still fresh, it’s new. … I feel like I’ve already been accepted just by being nominated and by being one of the finalists. It’s a great feeling but it’s all about the journey to this moment right now.”
Law and Clayborn are the Patriots’ all-time leaders in interceptions (36). Law is the team’s all-time leader in interceptions returned for touchdowns (6) and interception return yards (583). Clayborn is second on the team all-time in interception return yards (555), playing for New England from 1977 to 1989 before spending the final two seasons of his career in Cleveland.
Admittedly, Law said he was chasing Clayborn’s accomplishments while with the Patriots and thinks it’s his time to be recognized.
“Raymond Clayborn, you look at this guy and why hasn’t he been there in the Hall of Fame,” Law said. “His numbers speak for themselves. And you see his highlights and you’re like, man, if he didn’t get in, how the hell am I going to get in? That’s what you think about as a player when you see some of the greats.
“Not trying to take away anything from yourself, but you can’t but help look at a guy like that and think to say it’s his time. He deserves it. He’s waited long enough.”
Clayborn pretty much asked the same question.
“Why did it take so long?” he wondered. “I’m really honored that I’m a finalist with the two other gentlemen, Bill Parcells and Ty Law. Bill’s already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Ty, I believe, will get there one day himself.”
Drafted 16th overall in 1977, Clayborn played alongside Patriots legend and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Mike Haynes in the secondary. He was a three-time Pro Bowl player and is a member of the team’s 1970s and 1980s all-decades teams. He enjoyed getting physical with receivers in a less pass-happy league at the time.
“I preferred man-to-man,” he said. “I wanted to get up in people’s faces. I wanted to challenge them on every play, whether it be a run or pass.”
Clayborn currently resides in a Houston suburb, Katy, and is recovering from surgery stemming from prostate cancer.
Zuri Berry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @zuriberry and on Google+.