In somewhat of an atonement for a poor decision last year, the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame has decided to induct DeMarcus Ware in this year’s ceremony. What should have easily been a first-ballot induction has turned into a second year one, but at least they didn’t make the same mistake a second time. Ware was one of the most dominant pass rushers of his era and this should have all been just a formality.
Ware came into the NFL as a first-round draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys in 2005, He was the 11th overall pick that year when the Cowboys actually had two first-round picks and used the other (20th overall) on Marcus Spears. At the time, Bill Parcells was the Cowboys coach and he wanted to take Spears with the 11th pick, but was overruled by Jerry Jones who wanted Ware. They even had a little contract between each other to see who was going to be right. Parcells started to write it out once it was decided Ware was the pick.
“We’re sitting there and I see him take this legal pad and, man, is he carefully writing out a contract-looking document,” Jones said. “As a matter of fact, he even put signature lines down.”
“And he put on there: ‘Should player not average 10 sacks a year in his first five years in the NFL, Mr. Jones agrees that Mr. Parcells and his significant other will get five trips a year on his G5.’ And he put signature lines down there.”
“And, so, I didn’t even look at him. I read it right there. It was right beside me, six inches over, and he slid it over.”
“I wrote an addendum: ‘Mr. Jones so agrees provided Mr. Parcells agrees that should player get more than 12 sacks, the G5 and Mr. Parcells’ significant other will go on the trip, but it will be Mr. Jones accompanying them rather than Bill.’ Sign right there.”
No word on what happened with those G5 trips, but Ware certainly won the bet for Jones by averaging 12.9 sacks per year in those first five years. Ware had eight sacks in his first season, and never had under double-digit sacks in a season again until the 2013 season when he only played 13 games.
The Cowboys didn’t pluck Ware from one of the major colleges that were noted for football, instead he came from small Troy University in Alabama. He dominated there, but in the run up to the draft he was designated a tweener, where it wasn’t a sure thing he could play as a 4-3 defensive end with his hand down. Fortunately for Dallas, they were just making a change that would allow Ware’s talents to shine given his size and skill set.
Ware was basically unblockable as an outside linebacker in the Cowboys new 3-4 system. The Cowboys were making the switch from a 4-3 scheme that year under Parcells so they were looking for players that would flourish in that defense. Parcells got Spears at the 20th pick, and he served the Cowboys well as a defensive end in the scheme, but it was Ware that made the whole thing work.
Ware led the NFL in sacks in 2008 with 20, and then again in 2010 with 15.5 sacks. From 2006 through 2012, Ware was selected to the Pro Bowl and then again in 2014 and 2015. He was a first-team All-Pro in 2007, ‘08, ‘09, and ‘11. He also led the league in tackles for loss in 2008 (27), 2010 (21) and 2011 (26).
Ware finished his career with 138.5 sacks, with 117 coming in his nine seasons with the Cowboys. Unfortunately for Dallas, and for Ware, he was unable to get a Super Bowl ring while playing for the Cowboys. 2013 was Ware’s last season in Dallas when a combination of contract, injury, and defensive scheme all played a role in Ware leaving the Cowboys.
He found a second life with the Denver Broncos and played three seasons for them that finally included a Super Bowl ring. Ware was a major factor in their Super Bowl season of 2015.
A team captain, Ware earned a pair of Pro Bowl nods in 2014 and 2015 and posted double-digit sacks in his first season in Denver. In 2015, Ware posted another 7.5 regular-season sacks but was at his best during the Broncos’ journey to Super Bowl 50. The veteran player recorded 3.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hits as he was instrumental in the Broncos’ three-game playoff run.
Ware recovered a game-changing fumble against the Steelers, hit Tom Brady seven times in the AFC championship and sacked Cam Newton twice and hit him four times in the Broncos’ Super Bowl victory.
DeMarcus Ware was just as good a person off the field as he was a player on the field. He was nothing but excellence throughout his career and a role model for others. His 138.5 sacks ranks as the ninth most in NFL history in the official stats.
He finally gets his due in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One year late, but well-deserved nonetheless.