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In celebration of Ty Law's induction to the Patriots Hall of Fame today, we've decided to have our resident Pats history expert Paul Murphy take a look at the top cornerbacks in Patriots history. Where does Ty Law rank? Read on to find out!

5.) Ronnie Lippett – 1983 8th round pick from University of Miami
The first thing that comes to mind when I think of Ronnie Lippett was his play against the Miami Dolphins. Taking a page from former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer's playbook, Ronnie got all worked up when he saw the Miami Dolphins on the schedule. This was due to his disdain for the Dolphins whose players had dissed him as a college student on a visit to their training camp.

As for Schottenheimer, he took his hatred for his former team, the Oakland Raiders to a different level. Practices prior to the Oakland game were filled with disdain directed at the silver and black and owner Al Davis. “It was hell week”.

Ronnie had 24 interceptions in his eight year career with the Patriots. seven of those were thrown by Dolphins QB, Dan Marino. I always thought it was “well placed anger” by Ronnie.


4.) Asante Samuel – 2003 4th round pick from University of Central Florida
Part of a pretty good draft with DT Ty Warren and C Dan Koppen, Assante didn’t take long to become a solid starter for the Patriots. Injuries to Tyrone Poole and Ty Law paved the way for Asante to start in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Asante had two post season interceptions returned for touchdowns. He also intercepted 10 passes in the 2006 season, which was the most by a Patriot since 1964 with Ron Hall’s 11 picks. He was a solid defender who made the papers more for his financial situation than his play on the field.

Contract squabbles shortened his fine career with the Patriots. He should not be defined by that one drop of an Eli Manning pass with one minute 20 seconds left in Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants. That would have been his second Super Bowl ring.

3.) Raymond Clayborn – 1977 1st round pick from University of Texas

In his 12 year career with the Patriots, Raymond played exceptionally well from start to finish. He started as a rookie on a veteran team that would have won the Super Bowl the year prior, without Referee Ben Dreith intervening.

His most productive season was as a rookie with three touchdown returns to lead the league. His 31 yards per kickoff return led the league as well. Raymond was a three time Pro Bowl selection. He was part of that ball hawking defense that led to a Super Bowl XX appearance. He had 6 interceptions during the 1985 season. He recovered a fumble for one of the few highlights in the Super Bowl against the Chicago Bears.


1a.) Ty Law – 1995 1st round selection from University of Michigan


The first time a Patriots defender led the league in interceptions was Ty Law in 1995 with 9. His most famous interception was the 47 yard return of a Kurt Warner pass for a touchdown in Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams.

The physical play of the left CB forced the NFL to change the rules regarding the five-yard illegal contact with the receiver. This was in the aftermath of the 2003 AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts, where Ty intercepted QB Peyton Manning three times.

Hailing from the legendary town of Aliquippa, PA, Ty felt it necessary to promote his hometown instead of his college team on those Monday Night Football promotions when the Patriots team was introduced. He had good reason to do so. Aliquippa, PA is the hometown of: TE Mike Ditka, RB Tony Dorsett, Music Composer, Henry Mancini, Basketball star, “Pistol” Pete Maravich and RHP George ‘”Doc” Medich. “Doc” saved the life of a fan at Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia who had gone into cardiac arrest at a game in 1979. The Pittsburgh Pirates hurler administered mouth to mouth respiration, and heart massage.

There is one other person of note from Aliquippa, PA. That would be New England Patriots CB, Darelle Revis.

Ty finished with 53 interceptions, a Pro Bowl MVP and three Super Bowl Rings in his career. The only thing he is waiting for is a “call from the hall”.

1.)Mike Haynes – 1976 1st round pick from Arizona State University

Mike started as a rookie at right cornerback. With his 8 interceptions, he solidified the Patriots defense. He also had punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns. His durability allowed him to start 58 consecutive games until injury forced him from the lineup in 1979.

The 6’ 2” Mike Haynes forced the QB to stay away from his side of the field. Mike patrolled the right side of the defense using his speed and quickness similar to Deion Sanders. Mike was just a shade taller than Deion, and let his work on the field “do the talking”.

Mike had 28 interceptions and 10.4 punt return average with the Patriots. He won a Super Bowl ring as a member of the 1983 Oakland Raiders. This included an interception against the Washington Redskins.

Inducted to Patriots Hall of Fame in 1994. Number 40 retired by team.
Pro football Hall of Fame - 2012

Honorable Mention -

6.) Chuck Shonta and Daryl Johnson – Part of a very good Patriots defense from the 1960s. They received solid line play from Bob Dee, Larry Eisenhauer, Jim Lee Hunt and Houston Antwine. They had a defensive backfield of Ross O’ Hanley, Don Webb and Ron Hall. The Boston Patriots were very competitive in the AFL. Chuck was on the All Decade Team of the 1960s along with Daryl Johnson who had a short career from 1968-1971. Daryl was a converted QB from Morgan State who made the transition to CB. Tennis star, Arthur Ashe, and HOF MLB, Willie Lanier of the Kansas City Chiefs attended his high school. Chuck and Daryl are worthy choices for mention to all time Pats CB.

7.) Otis Smith – While ranked as one of the 100 worst football players from Deadspin at No.71 on their list, Otis started at CB opposite Ty Law in the biggest game in New England Patriots history. He had 5 interceptions in 2001, two of which were returned for touchdowns. 7 of his 26 career interceptions were returned for touchdowns. Deadspin is defined as Sports News without Access, Favor, or Discretion. Enough said.

8.) Rob Bolton – He had a four year career with the Patriots followed by seven years with the Cleveland Browns. He had 35 interceptions and missed only 5 games in his first 10 years. He was a student of the game, and has coached at Norfolk State, Delaware State, Howard University and Liberty University. Didn't TE Ben Coates go to Liberty?

9.) Aqib Talib and Devin McCourty

Aqib was only in New England for a year and a half. This is too short of a sample. Should we anoint his successor, Darrelle Revis, who has yet to take the field as a Patriot?

Devin McCourty – He changed positions. Didn’t Babe Ruth go from the mound to the outfield? I hope Devin has the same success.

In conclusion, there is nothing that can be done to unseat Mike Haynes as the best CB in Boston and New England Patriots history. While he gets 2 demerits for leaving to go to the Raiders, I can't say as I blame him. It was a different regime working the top floor back then.

Ty Law finishes a close second. His physical style changed the NFL. Rival teams had to game plan where he would be on every down. There is one particular play that I cannot get over so Ty loses in a photo finish.

I used to paint houses on the weekends with my friend Mark, who worked at Raytheon. We supplemented our incomes by taking relatively small painting projects. Please do not read into the fact that a high level executive at the United States Largest Major Defense contractor was up on a ladder trying to make ends meet. It was a sunny day on September 24, 1994. University of Michigan led 26-21 with 6 seconds to play at home against University of Colorado. A Hail Mary pass was in order, and “Rocket Left” was called. QB Kordell Stewart heaved the forward pass 70 yards into the Michigan end zone. The ball was tipped by WR Blake Anderson through the arms of CB Ty Law (#22), and grabbed by WR Michael Westbrook. I almost fell off the ladder from 30 feet.

The ceremony on August 1st for Ty Law to be inducted into the Hall at Patriot Place is deserving. Maybe, I’ll ask my friend Mark to go with me. He has retired from Raytheon.

Paul Murphy is a freelance writer from New Hampshire.

Follow me on Twitter at @_prmurphy

For more of my articles, click here.

prmurphy 8/01/2014 09:00:00 AM Edit
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