CANTON, Ohio — As former Wolverine Ty Law lifted the cloth off the bust of his head that would soon be placed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the three-time Super Bowl Champion was overcome with emotion. He quipped before his speech that the Patriots Hall of Fame enshrinement (in 2014) was nothing like the crowd that stood before him in Canton Saturday night. After thanking two of his closest childhood friends, his Aliquippa, Penn. family and his direct family, especially his mother, Law moved on to the Michigan portion of the speech.
“This (the University of Michigan) was where my belief in myself was really put to the test,” Law said. “Not everyone thought I would make it. They thought I would be a small fish in a big pond because that’s the University of Michigan. I would hear, “Well he is good, but he ain’t that good,” and to be honest with you, that pissed me off.”
Law played for the Wolverines from 1992-1994, and won a Big Ten Championship during his freshman year. Michigan went 25-8-3 during Law’s three seasons in Ann Arbor, including 16-6-2 in conference play. Gary Moeller’s teams won all three bowl games (Rose, Hall of Fame, Holiday) while Law was a Wolverine. He used that chip on his shoulder from his freshman year and spoke passionately about his journey from being a freshman battling for playing time to becoming a first round pick in the 1995 NFL Draft.
“Once I arrived at Michigan I had to fight, I had to fight hard to get on the field and start as a freshman. I had to fight even harder as a sophomore, and I made All-Big Ten. I fought harder as a junior and happened to make All-American, and eventually the critics and the naysayers called me one of the best cornerbacks in the country.”
Those in the crowd to witness Law’s speech included his former roommate at U of M, Deollo Anderson, who was a defensive back from 1992-95 for the Wolverines. Charles Woodson, who arrived on campus the season after Law departed, and longtime Michigan sports information guru Bruce Madej. The former Pro Bowler had some warm words for all associated with the Michigan community, from those he shared the sideline with to the folks who sat all the way up in Row 95 at Michigan Stadium.
“I want to thank all my Michigan teammates, thank you for being here. The fans, my brothers and sisters up there in Ann Arbor. The Michigan fans packed the house every week. Thank you for being part of my journey, Go Blue.”
He did not ignore the fact he was a Michigan player giving his speech just two hours northeast of Ohio Stadium either, but Law’s 2-1 record against the Buckeyes, including the 1993 28-0 upset victory over No. 5 OSU, still keeps the rivalry fodder burning 25 years later.
“I know I am about to hear some O-HI-O because we in Ohio, but GO BLUE!”
Law’s speech continued thanking his former New England Patriot coaches and teammates, and how he, along with Tom Brady and several other stars from the early 2000’s helped establish “The Patriot Way” under coach Bill Belichick. Law’s professional career finished with him being part of three Super Bowl championships with the Patriots, five Pro Bowl selections, two All-Pro selections, and leading the NFL in interceptions twice. After a decade with the Patriots, Law played for the Jets, Chiefs and Broncos before retiring in 2009. His full remarks from Saturday’s ceremony in Canton are embedded here.
Ty Law became the first Wolverine to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame since Tom Mack in 1999. His enshrinement could begin a run of soon-to-be Hall of Fame Wolverines that played their college ball in Ann Arbor under Lloyd Carr. Offensive lineman Steve Hutchinson has been a finalist in his first two years of eligibility (2018, 2019) after a decorated career with the Seahawks, Vikings and Titans and could get the nod soon. Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson will be eligible for enshrinement in 2021 and is seen as a lock to enter that season. Fittingly enough, he and Peyton Manning could be reunited on a stage just like they were at the 1997 Heisman ceremony in New York City. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will go in during his first year of eligibility, but forecasting when the six-time champion will retire is akin to trying to predict the weather. Once Brady does retire, he will enter Canton in his first year of eligibility.
As for Law, despite some contentiousness with Lloyd Carr when he left school after his junior year for the NFL Draft, he will make his return to Ann Arbor on October 5th as an honorary captain for Michigan’s homecoming game against Iowa. Jim Harbaugh invited Law to be captain on his podcast Attack Each Day in March. Law quickly accepted and even dropped in some trash talk for the Hawkeyes.
“We going to go out and whoop some Iowa ass,” Law claimed.
Law will receive a warm reception in the Big House when he makes his return to Ann Arbor, and like the Michigan greats before him who have gone on to find great success in the pros, he will go back to the place where it all began and hear the roar of 100,000+ cheering him on 25 years after his last game in the Big House.