Don Law

Truth be known - Don Law liked basketball better than any other sport. But he is best known for his exploits on the gridiron.

Law was a four-sport star at Brownsville High School in the 1960’s. Besides earning letters in football, he also won eight letters in baseball, basketball and track.

Chuck Muncie  

The 6-0, 230 pound Law was a force on the football field.

"My senior year we had our best record at 7-3," Law recalled. "We played against a lot of teams
with higher enrollments. Plus, we played all of our games on the road that year because they
were building a new football stadium. Every game we played was an away game and it was

Law had a lot of respect for Jack Henck, who was the football and track coach at Brownsville at
the time.

"He was my track coach and he also coached me in basketball and in football," Law said. "He
was my fitness guru and he was way ahead of his time with the weights. He really was a
physical trainer and if you worked out for Coach Henck you felt you could play with anybody.
When I coached track and field, I still used his workouts."

In track and field, Law was a part of some outstanding teams at Brownsville.

"I went to the state meet in the shotput," Law stated. "I also ran the low hurdles. I played all the
sports - that's the way we grew up. Every season you came out to play. I loved basketball the
best. My favorite sport was basketball and I always wanted to be 6-5 and a couple of my idols
were the Stith brothers - Tom and Sam who played at St. Bonaventure. I used to go down and
watch Willie Somerset play for Duquesne and Brian Generolovich play for Pitt. My father used to
take me down to Pitt Stadium to watch Jim Brown run over Pittsburgh's defense."

Brownsville went up against some top-notch competition in basketball.

"There was some great basketball back then," Law offered. "The boys out of Uniontown - Yates,
Parson, Gillian and Wilfred Minor and we played against Simmie Hill, Norm Van Lier and

Law was a catcher on the Brownsville baseball squad.

"We had Charlie Slick coaching and he was the principal at the time," Law said. "You played
with Charlie and you did it the right way. The legion team back then was great. We had some
serious baseball back then. The level of play when you were 14 or 15 years old was amazing
and you had some people that were really committed to teaching baseball.
Pro baseball was in the picture for Law at one time.

"We had tryouts in Charleroi," Law stated. "Six of us went down and tried out. When I got to age
17 in the summertime we started chasing the girls and I lost interest in playing, but my cousin
Ken Griffey continued to play."

Law was named to the Prep All-American football squad when he graduated in 1966 and was
All-County and All-State. He played in the 1966 Big 33 game against the Texas All-Stars.

"We played Texas and Bubba Smith's little brother Tody was on that team," Law explained. "I
had some great teammates on that team - Henry Brown, Mike McCoy, Frankie Vactor from
Washington, PA - he was a cousin also. Texas beat us 34-2 - Bobby Layne was the Texas
coach along with Doak Walker and there wasn't supposed to be any blitzing in the game and of
course Layne said forget that. I got injured in the game - I hurt my right shoulder a bursa sac
burst and McCoy sat up with me all night."

Law was heavily recruited out of high school - 120 schools sought his services.

"I fell in love with Michigan State on a recruiting visit when I was escorted by Bubba Smith and
George Webster," Law recalled. "Bubba's brother Tody was my roommate before he transferred
to Southern Cal and became one of the "Wild Bunch". I considered four schools before settling
on MSU - the four were Nebraska, Minnesota, Notre Dame and Michigan State. Coach Duffy
Daugherty brought all the big recruits to the Green and White game at the same time and a lot
of us decided to go to MSU."

Law played freshman ball in 1966 and then was a solid contributor for the Spartans in 1967,
1968 and 1969.The coaching staff admired Law so much that he inherited two-time
All-American Bubba Smith's number 95.

"It's retired now," Law joked. "I always told Bubba that they finally retired our number and that was
kind of a sore spot with him that they didn't retire it until quite a few years later."

During his playing days from 1967 through 1969, the Spartans posted records of 3-7, 5-5 and

"We had 11 high school All-Americans on my freshman team," Law explained. "We're talking
about the middle sixties when they were having the riots up in Detroit and we were a little
different - we had big afros and the granny glasses. It was a very trying time. It was a growth
period for us and academically on our freshman team out of 13 black athletes - 11 graduated,
which at that time was unheard of.

"I started every game and played defensive tackle at first and then switched to linebacker. We
made some strange choices as far as some of the guys who were playing. If we had left Jack
Pitts at quarterback things might have been different, but they moved him to defensive back and
he broke his neck and we were all very upset about that and he never played another down of

Law had some outstanding moments for the Spartans.

He started as sophomore and recorded 71 tackles. Against Syracuse in his junior season he
had six tackles in a 14-10 victory, and as a senior he had a 70 yard interception return against
Washington to preserve a 27-11 win, and he sacked SMU quarterback Chuck Hixson three
times as the Spartans beat the Mustangs 23-15.

"Hixson was one of the best quarterbacks we had ever seen," Law said. "He had a great arm. I
had a big interception against Washington and the coach gave the game ball to Don Highsmith,
which is kind of funny."

Law made second team All Big Ten as a junior and was first team All Big Ten as a senior. He
was also named to the Notre Dame 20-year All-Opponent team.

Law took a moment to reflect on his head coach at Michigan State Duffy Daugherty.

"He was gregarious and a recruiting specialist," Law recalled. "He had a very good knowledge
of the game and he knew how to manage coaches and he had some of the best - Al Dorow,
Hank Bullough and George Perles all of them came up under him."

Law graduated from Michigan State and tried to land a spot in pro football.

"I was with the Steelers and I was hurt in a pre-season game against Miami," Law stated. "After
the exhibition season I went to the last cut - they had a lot of linebackers and I got the axe.
Coach Noll told me to go to a semi-pro team in Yorktown and I ended up going down to Norfolk
and they had Otis Sistrunk and Nelson Munsey. The next year, I went to Denver and I knew
Coach Lou Saban, but I injured my knee and I decided to go back and get my masters degree in

Law moved to Atlanta and worked for Maynard Jackson and then he helped run the CETA
program. Then he worked with Therapeutic Recreation for seven years. Then he wrote
programs for the city of Atlanta. He got married to a girl he worked with and they moved to Erie,
PA. He and his brother Scott went to Mortuary Science School from 1983 to 1987. In 1987 he
went to Memphis and he worked for the Housing Authority.

He returned to Atlanta in 1990 and worked for the school system. His parents became ill in 1994
and he returned to Brownsville and took care of them and ran the funeral business. His mother
passed away in 1997 and he came back from Atlanta to take care of his father in 1999 and he
passed away in 2000. He continued to work at the funeral home and was walking five miles a
day and he developed congestive heart failure and diabetes - two ailments that he is battling
today. He had two heart bypass surgeries within a year.

Law, 70, is retired and separated from his wife. He resides in Uniontown, Pa. He has two sons
and a daughter.

Law looks back with a great deal of satisfaction on his athletic career and his days in

"You can't find better people," Law opined. "The Mon Valley and Fayette County - if you can
survive Fayette County, Washington County and Donora - they prepared you for the world as far
as dealing with people. You have a hard working work ethic here. In my era you had honest
people, and they gave you their word and they stuck to it."


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