As a legend, it's never easy to say goodbye, but for DeMarcus Ware, his NFL career has come to a close.
Ware announced today that he's decided to hang it up rather than continue pursuing opportunities in the open market as a free agent. He’s also retiring while there’s clearly still some high-level game left in him. Continuity and injuries, though, have limited his impact and ability to stay on the field.
The former Dallas Cowboy arrived in Denver in 2014 alongside other big name free agent signings T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib. All three played a crucial part in the Super Bowl 50 defense that’s one of the great units in franchise history, if not league history.
Ware arrived in the NFL in 2005 from Troy University as a raw and highly skilled talent who jumped up to the 11th overall pick with some impressive testing performances at the combine—including a 4.56 40-yard dash—prompting then-Dallas head coach Bill Parcells to take him.
Ever since then, No. 94 has become one of the NFL best pass rushers and arguably the best of his generation. With his 138.5 sacks, he retires 8th all-time in sacks, ahead of some of the NFL's most dangerous pass rushers, including Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas.
His impact with the Broncos was instant both on and off the field where he became a team leader and a mentor to Von Miller who took his game to new heights under the veteran's tutelage.
While 2014 was his only season with double-digit sacks in Denver, his impact in an injury-marred 2015 season was critical in the Broncos title run. In the 2015 postseason, Ware amassed 3.5 sacks taking the opposing quarterback down in all three playoff games for the Broncos. His AFC Championship performance against the New England Patriots was the stuff of legends. In that single game, Ware hit Tom Brady seven times as the defense beat up the future Hall of Famer to the tune of 17 quarterback hits, greatly limiting his impact.
Though not the devastating force that he was in Dallas, Ware’s impact was always felt and his contribution to the Super Bowl 50 run shouldn’t be overlooked as he also had two sacks on Cam Newton to seal the Broncos championship and his first and only career ring.
While the Broncos still have some great players rushing the passer from the outside, few who’ve played for the organization have had the impact that No. 94 had. He’ll remain a fan favorite and one of the NFL’s greatest at his position for a very long time.
After Peyton Manning a year ago, it’s time for Broncos fans to say goodbye to another NFL great and while, like Manning, he'll be enshrined into the Hall in Canton with other teams colors, he'll be remembered as a champion in Denver.