Does The DeMarcus Ware Era Have To Close In Dallas?

Jeff Zelevansky

Number 94 has gone to war for some pretty crappy teams and proven his worth as a warrior, but as the old general stated "Old soldiers just fade away." Is this the year when Ware's star fades into history?

Over at NBCDFW, Richie Whitt took up the issue of what is causing the decline in performance from the Dallas Cowboys biggest name on defense.

Yeah, the elbow. That’s it. It was the elbow.

Or, when it comes to DeMarcus Ware’s dramatic drop in production in 2013, was it the shoulder? The double-teams? The absence of Anthony Spencer. The neck stingers? Or, perhaps it was merely age?

The last question is most likely the correct one, heck I hate to admit that I am getting old, but for each of us, the time will come and for DWare that time appears to be fast approaching. Does this mean that Ware cannot be a productive football player for another season or two? Does this mean he will not be a Dallas Cowboy? The answer to each of these questions can be "NO", but for that to happen, everyone from Ware, to the team, and even us as fans needs to acknowledge that DeMarcus Ware is no longer capable of doing what he used to do and that the Dallas Cowboys are no longer capable of paying him for past performance. A dose of reality is needed for all involved.

Ware thinks he knows the reason, and is getting it surgically repaired next week. It’s his right elbow in general and an exposed nerve in specific, something that’s bothered him for two years. Ware is a warrior who has proven he’ll play through pain and play at a high level.

Unfortunately, that is more a symptom of something else, the wear-and-tear of a great career, than it is the cause of his declining productivity. Until this season, DeMarcus Ware went to war no matter what. We remember a game against New Orleans where somehow the mainstay of the Dallas defense not only managed to drag himself out on the field to play, he turned in the type of effort that will earn himself a place in the Ring of Honor and in Canton's hallowed halls. It was a night to remember.

Sadly, things like that are now relegated to "Remember When" status. Father Time is catching up with DeMarcus Ware just as surely as he is catching up to you and me. We all reach a time where the spirit is willing but the body is no longer able. I don't think for a moment that DWare has quite reached that point yet, but he is becoming more limited. It is time to quit asking the body to deliver so much. In a situation where number 94 is able to do just that, he (and we) can experience more days of triumph. They won't be as plentiful, but they won't be gone for good either. All that will take is for everyone involved to accept reality as it is.

For Ware that means coming to terms with the fact that $12.5 million dollars for this season is unrealistic, be it in Dallas, Cleveland, or any other NFL city. It also means that he will have to listen when his body says "that's enough for now". For the team it means having to adjust their strategy and personnel to meet the accommodations that need to be made in their use of the veteran warrior. For the fans, it means tempering expectations. A failure to meet this reality heads on will result in something that none of us want to see; a day when DeMarcus Ware takes the field in Arlington clad in enemy colors. It does not have to be, but I suspect it will.

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