After the 2013 season, one in which DeMarcus Ware played in only 13 games, and registered a career-low (at the time) of only six sacks, the Dallas Cowboys decided that the best pass-rusher their franchise had ever seen had seen his best days pass him by. After suffering injuries that even if they didn’t force him off the field entirely, certainly hampered his performance, for several years in a row the team came to the conclusion that he wouldn’t ever be the same player he had been and that it was time for them to move on.
For many players in the NFL this would be the end of the story, as most players are “retired” from the NFL by the teams who employ them before they themselves are prepared to leave the game.
But for Ware, that wasn’t the case at all. With multiple suitors after his services, the all-time great chose the Denver Broncos, who signed him to a lofty $10 million per year contract for the 2014 season. The Broncos had just been to the Super Bowl (although they were overmatched against the Seattle Seahawks), and were building a defense that could be a dominant unit to work with the Peyton Manning-led offense to carry the team back to another Super Bowl, this time with the idea that they would overmatch their opponent.
Ware, was one of three premier free agent signings that off-season, (maybe those aren’t always a bad thing after all), and he immediately stepped in as a captain for the Broncos, and a mentor for young, eccentric, exciting pass-rusher Von Miller.
It didn’t take long for Ware to prove the Cowboys wrong, as he played all 16 games for the Broncos in 2014 and registered 10 sacks, to help get the Broncos back to the playoffs.
In 2015 the payoff for the Broncos spending spree on defense really arrived, as they boasted a dominant group, led by a Ware/Miller led pass rushing group that took over games, and made opposing quarterbacks miserable. Although he played in only 11 games Ware put up 7.5 sacks in the regular season, and was primed and ready for a playoff run, and it showed.
The Cowboys, whose season had gone into the toilet very early due to multiple injuries to quarterback Tony Romo, had to sit on their couches and watch this great player wear another uniform and register 2.5 sacks in two playoff games, and hit Tom Brady an otherworldly seven times in the AFC championship game, before sacking Cam Newton twice in a dominant defensive performance, only a year after the Cowboys lack of a pass rush likely cost them an opportunity at their own Super Bowl.
Ware finally got the Super Bowl ring that had eluded him for all those years in Dallas, and returned to Denver on a reduced salary and in a reduced role in 2016, in an effort to help him stay healthy. It didn’t quite work as a disk problem in his back held him out of six games and limited his production, as he put up only four sacks.
His contract expired and as our Mike Fisher reported, there was interest from Ware’s camp in returning to Dallas for a sort of a farewell tour, to give one last run at a ring with the team that drafted him. But although Ware stated he was fully healthy, and ready to go, CowboysHQ.com reported exclusively (dating back to late-November and often since) that there is belief from medical people that there was a bit of a degenerative issue, and that D-Ware would never be D-Ware again (here's Fish fishslapping somebody who doesn't get it) ...
Then, once the interest in returning to Dallas or Denver was not returned in kind, the all-timer opted to hang em up, rather than starting over in a new city with one of the teams (Rams?) who were courting his services for 2017.
No less than an authority than Manning says of Ware, "I played against DeMarcus and played with him. I played against DeMarcus and played with him. It was an honor and a privilege to have done both. Being a teammate with DeMarcus and being a captain of the team was a real privilege for me. DeMarcus loved football. He loved everything about it. He loved putting the work in, loved helping the young players and of course loved playing on Sundays.
“I wish him all the best. He truly is one of a kind."
Jerry Jones (who as Fish writes here wants D-Ware to sign a one-day contract to “retire as a Cowboy’’) pitches in: “DeMarcus was everything we could have ever wanted in a player, a person and a representative of the Cowboys organization. He was one of the most dominant NFL players at his position in his era, and he was one of the most dynamic players in the history of the Dallas Cowboys. We wish nothing but the best for DeMarcus and his family, and we appreciate and respect his contributions to the NFL and to our team."
And all of DFW can agree, as we are in the midst of an emotional time in area sports, as it involves iconic guys. Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks to 30,000 points a few days ago. Accompanied by Bob Dylan, Romo, an ex-Cowboy, a few hours or days or weeks from now.
And now D-Ware, with a last moment in the sun.
One of the greatest careers in NFL history has come to a close, and the end of yet another era in DFW sports closes with it.