New England Patriots Hall of Fame cornerback Ty Law turned in one of the most memorable performances in team history during the 2003 AFC Championship Game, intercepting Peyton Manning three times in a 24-14 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
On Monday, hours after Manning officially announced his retirement from the NFL, ESPN colleague Joe McDonald intercepted Law as the two shared the same train ride to New York.
Law's thoughts on Manning finally calling it a career?
"It’s a wonderful position to be in, I think he went out the right way, with a Super Bowl championship, like Ray Lewis," said Law, who has made the successful post-playing-career transition to business, opening trampoline parks in the region.
"What better way to walk away from the game than winning the Super Bowl? Was he MVP? No. But dammit, he was the quarterback who led the team to a championship, and he got to beat the nemesis, Tom Brady, in the game to get to the Super Bowl. Storybook career. Congratulations to him.
"I’m always going to look at him with admiration and respect. He helped push my game. When I played against him, if you played well, you got some kudos. I’m playing against the great Peyton Manning, and another Hall of Fame receiver in Marvin Harrison, who got his just due this year. I had to play hard. To go at it with those guys in significant games, it meant everything to me. I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
A five-time Pro Bowler, Law reminisced about time spent with Manning and getting to know him off the field.
"I think people really didn’t understand how cool of a guy that Peyton was," Law told McDonald. "Just what you see on those commercials; for me, playing against him, I loved seeing that side of Peyton. Being down there, playing against him, and in Pro Bowls with him, sitting down in the bar and having a beer, he’s a real down-to-earth guy. Similar to Tom Brady.
"They could have acted like they were bigger than the game; if anybody had the right to act like the typical stereotype for, ‘I’m the quarterback and everybody else [is below me]', they could have done it, but they didn’t. So that is what impresses me about Peyton more than anything, his humility."
Law called it an honor to play against Manning, expressing appreciation that his career overlapped with Manning, Brett Favre and Brady, whom he referred to as "three of the greatest of all time."
As for Brady, Law was asked how long he thinks he can keep playing at a high level.
“Tom, the way he takes care of himself, he can go as long as he wants to go, as long as the organization keeps a supporting cast around him, somebody that can block for him," Law said.
"He’s going to be all right because his mind is sharp as ever. It isn’t like he was very fast to begin with, but he can move and slip and do the things that he needed to do as a young guy. He’s showing some signs of running even more now.
"It’s all about a supporting cast. As long as Tom’s mind is sharp and he’s healthy, he’s going to be fine. I don’t think all of his story is written, even though you can write a book right now and put it on the shelf and it’s a best-seller. I don’t think the ending is yet. I think Tom Brady has another championship run in him. Maybe even two."