The no-nonsense Kersee has coached 23 Olympic gold medalists, including his wife, heptathlete Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and sprinter Gail Devers, and had worked with some baseball and hockey players, but Law was his first NFL client. Their initial meeting was a doozy. Kersee popped in a tape of Law running and said with mock seriousness, "Oh, here's the problem right here. You can't run." Jackie poked her head into the room, looked at the screen and yelled, "Oh, my god, Bob, who is that?"
Law was amazed by Kersee's manic attention to detail and by his mixture of barbaric and state-of-the-art training techniques. "Ty came in humbled," says Kersee. "He left enlightened." On some days Law would begin his workout in the morning on a computer-controlled leg-lift machine that charted the strength and mechanics of his legs and finish in the afternoon running with a heavy sled hooked to his back or jumping back and forth over a bench for about 20 minutes while Kersee punched him in the chest.
"Now I can swat little receivers down like gnats," says the 5'11", 200-pound Law. "I can run with the big, fast guys or just pop 'em in the mouth once or twice, and all of a sudden they aren't so big anymore, and they're not running so fast, either."
Kersee reconstructed Law's gait by working extensively on the flexibility and power in his hips. That gave Law a smoother, faster, more efficient break on the ball to complement his 4.35 speed in the 40. "Ty could be a world-class sprinter," says Kersee, who will train Law for three months this spring and summer. "He reminds me of the old Oakland Raiders kind of corner, like Lester Hayes. He can get right in a guy's face, or he can run stride for stride with any receiver in the league."
Law returned to the Boston area from St. Louis a few days before training camp feeling, he says, as if he had been torn down and rebuilt with bionic parts. But he knew all the hard work in St. Louis would be for naught if he were forced to spend yet another football season worrying about his mom.
Before the '98 season Diane entered a rehab program. In his first three games, Ty picked off four passes. "I don't care how tough you think you are as a football player," he says, "watching your mom go through something like that hurts. It hurts a lot. And the worst part may be that you can never escape it. Not even for a second." Law finished the season with the most All-Pro votes of any NFL defender and was named the top defensive back by the NFL Players Association. But best of all, he says, his mom has stayed off drugs. She says that she has remained clean for more than a year.
Proof of Law's success in 1998 is spread across the mantel and around the fireplace in his den. Another nine-pick season and he might have to add a second fireplace. So he plans to build a bigger house, complete with a trophy case for his purloined footballs. Going into the off-season Law had his sights set on getting a ball from the Broncos' John Elway. Now that Elway is retiring, however, he'll have to look elsewhere.
"I've got an Aikman, a Kelly, a Manning, a Marino and a Young," says Law, "but I don't have a Brett Favre ball yet. The problem is that the guy just won't throw at me. If he does, maybe I can add him to my collection."