DeMarcus Ware seems nothing like Greg Ellis, the perpetually disgruntled former Cowboys teammate who he has effectively replaced. "I don't really pay attention to how he's doing in Oakland,'' Ware says pleasantly. "I'm more focused on what Anthony Spencer is doing.''
DeMarcus Ware seems nothing like Charles Haley, the fearsomely imbalanced Dallas legend who used to piss off (and on) people while wearing No. 94. When I inform Ware that women I know universally respond to seeing him by saying things like, "I'd just like to pinch his cheeks!'' ... Ware giggles innocently.
But if you want to experience just a bit of edginess and darkness with the Dallas Cowboys best player, do what I did. Ask him about this Sunday's opponent.
There is so much about the personable DeMarcus Ware that is sunshine and lollipops, roses and rainbows. His view on the sometimes seedy relationships NFL players involve themselves in? "I'm married,'' he says. "Her name is Taniqua. She is the love of my life. She and (daughter) Marley, those are my baby girls.''
So, I say, there will be no internet vixens for you, eh?
"Yeah,'' Ware laughs, "I've told Taniqua to be careful with that internet.''
Ware has a kinder, gentler approach to finances, too. Well aware that Dallas fans are desirous of their Ware jerseys, but might be on a budget, he's set up DWare.com, where he's selling Ed Hardy-style T-shirts with DeMarcus-style themes. "Those jerseys can be like $180, and the Ed Hardy shirts can be almost as much, so we decided to do some shirts that are right about $30,'' says Ware, who is wearing one of his own designs. "Pretty stylish, huh?''
(Of course, one of these days, Ware will be upped from his present $1-million salary with an extension that might just make him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. At which time he can afford to be even more stylish.)
And he is self-effacing in so many ways. He's lousy at Madden, can't play ping-pong, would be happy to shoot a 95 in golf, and is a little bit embarrassed by his defense's Week 1 performance in Tampa Bay, in which the Cowboys won 34-21 despite allowing 450 yards while recording no sacks and no turnovers.
Of course, maybe some of that was a result of Ware absorbing an early-game concussion.
"They basically give you a sobriety test,'' Ware says of the trainers' handling of him on the sidelines in Tampa. "You get memory loss. Even now, I'm afraid I'm going to forget my car keys.''
There is one thing Ware and the Cowboys cannot forget, however - and it probably explains why DeMarcus Ware hates the New York Giants: It was only 20 months ago when the Cowboys were at home, in the playoffs, a 10-point favorite, hosting the Giants, a seeming Super Bowl lock ... and it all went sour.
In the ensuing year-and-a-half, the Cowboys have battled questions while the Giants have become a "model franchise'' with a Super Bowl title as the proof.
While the Cowboys have experienced ups and downs, it's all been ups for the 27-year-old Ware. In his four seasons, the former first-round pick has recorded eight, 11.5, 14 and last year, 20 sacks. No player has ever officially recorded back-to-back 20-sack seasons. It's a goal, but ...
None of that, of course, compares to what his buddy Osi Umenyiora and the Giants have done.
Ware continues to be best friends with former Auburn High School and Troy teammate Umenyiora and knows that there will be plenty of time before and after Sunday night's home opener at Cowboys Stadium to be cordial, to be the DeMarcus Ware who isn't a Merriman, who isn't an Ellis, who isn't a Haley, who is worthy of having his cheeks pinched.
But for three hours on Sunday night? He says it to me one more time:
"I do,'' Ware says. "I hate those New York Giants!''