ARLINGTON, Texas — As soon as DeMarcus Ware walked into AT&T Stadium last weekend to speak to girls from 15 Fort Worth high schools playing flag football, he took out his phone and started filming.
He could see names through the cameraRing of Honor members include Roger Staubach (Bob Lilly), Mel Renfro, Tony Dorsett and Tony Renfro on one side of the stadium and Troy Aikman, Emmitt and Michael Irvin on the opposite.
All of them are Hall of Famers.
Ware may be able to join them on Thursday when the 2022 Pro Football Hall of Fame class will be announced during the NFL Honors (9 p.m.). ET, ABC).
“You know what’s so crazy, I don’t get any anxiety because I was always the one who brought the pressure,” said Ware, who is in his first year as a finalist. “I look at it as I put my résumé in and now it’s up to everybody else to say if you’re getting into the Hall or not. …
“But like I told those young ladies, if you make it this year, if you don’t make it this year, you’ve got to still keep knocking at the door. I’m one of those guys that no matter what, will keep knocking because that’s how I’ve gotten to where I’m at right now. It's great to see the Ring of Honor and all these guys. I’m in the Cowboys stadium. It's like coming home. The Hall of Fame is like home. I feel like I’m ready for that, but you don’t know until that time comes.”
Ware has a Hall of Fame-worthy résumé.
His 138.5 sacks rank ninth on the NFL’s official list. His Cowboys record is 117 sacks. Only Reggie White managed 100 sacks quicker than Ware (96 to 113). Ware had seven consecutive seasons of at least 10 bags and was the league's leader in sacks with 20 and 15.5 respectively in 2008.
Ware was a Pro Bowler nine times, a four-time first-team All-Pro, and was named to All-Decade 2000s.. He would be the Cowboys Hall of Famer that did not win a Super Bowl ring in Dallas. However, he did earn a title in 2015 when he was with the . He’s most proud of being an 11-time captain.
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“Ability and attitude, I think of those two things,” former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips said. “He has the ability obviously, but those great ones, they want to be better all the time. They know they’re great, but they’re always trying to get better, especially the ones I’ve been around and especially DeMarcus. His attitude not only in football but in life. What a man. He is positive, upbeat, and always smiling. He radiates energy.”
Phillips, who was also Ware’s defensive coordinator when the Broncos won the Super Bowl, knows Hall of Fame players. Bruce Smith, the Buffalo's all-time leader for sacks, was his coach. White is White's second coach in Philadelphia. Rickey Jackson is the 16th ranked New Orleans coach. There are many more that he has coached, and they will most likely be added the Hall of Fame someday., .
“Pass rush is feel and he could feel when he could get around them and he could feel when he could go inside them,” Phillips said. “The great ones make the right decisions. Some guys you say, ‘Hey, contain the passer. Don’t let him get out of the pocket, but guys like him you say, ‘Rush the passer.’ You’ve got to give him the ability to do what they do well. Some coaches want to say, ‘Don’t do this. Don’t do that,’ and we always told those guys, ‘Go get him.’”
Tight end Jason Witten was Ware’s teammate for nine seasons in Dallas. They practiced together every day. They formed a close bond through shared sacrifices, work, and a mutual love for football.
“I don’t know if I ever went against somebody that was so complete,” Witten said. “Pass rush, yeah, he had all the measurables. He was tall and athletic, could bend and was as dominant in running. He had an incredible anchor, excellent hands, and a keen sense of where the ball was heading. And the other trait he had, I’d say he was constantly evolving. His hands, a new passrush move. I vividly remember six months of him working with me.and sharing as much information as he could share.”
This is a trait Ware continues to use today.
Ware meets regularly with Cowboys rookie linebacker, who had 13 sacks in 2021 and is likely to be named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. It was more than just passing rush moves. The message also stressed the importance of being able to sustain success.
“Just how to take care of my body, what to do weekly, find a routine and things like that,” Parsons said. “And I really took it in because obviously he’s done it.”
Miller will be playing in his second Super Bowl Sunday, when theYou can take on the (6:30 p.m. ET, NBC considers Ware a savior. Miller was raised in Dallas and grew up watching Ware. He would tape his hands the way Ware taped his hands to “try to capture some of the energy.”
“I come from the DeMarcus Ware tree, probably one of the last ones that come from the DeMarcus Ware tree on and off the football field,” Miller said. “He’s my idol. DeMarcus is my idol. DeMarcus ends up joining the Denver Broncos in a critical time of my life. I was just coming off ACL surgery, and trying to find my way back. He was there to help me through that, and he continues to do so. We communicate all the time. It’s more than just a brotherhood. It’s more than just fellowship. That’s truly my guy, man. I love him to death.”
Ware was in Canton, Ohio, last summer for former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s induction and during his speech, Ware made eye contact with Irvin and Ray Lewis.
“They were pointing at me. Michael Irvin like, ‘You’re next,’” Ware said. “I’m sitting there like, ‘Man, this here is the opportunity of a lifetime when those things happen.’ I did an appearance with Michael Irvin and he said in the car, he said, ‘D, it took me five, six, seven years to get in there. It doesn’t matter when. It matters you getting in there.’ He said that gold jacket is that gold jacket. It kind of settled me a bit. This is Michael Irvin I’m talking to. Those memories stayed with me a bit. This is a prestigious award that many people don’t get, but I’m pretty close.”