One of the best pass rushers of the past decade is officially hanging up the cleats.
Free agent and former Dallas Cowboy DeMarcus Ware announced his retirement from the NFL at the age of 34 on Monday.
“After a lot of thought and prayer, I’ve decided to accept the unknown and retire from my NFL career,” Ware wrote on Twitter. “Tempting opportunities still present themselves for me to play and I feel better than I have in years. However, long term health and quality of life outweigh the spark and passion to play that I once had.
“With that, I take this opportunity to thank all of the people in my life who had a hand in molding me into a great player and the God fearing man I am today. I thank the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos for opportunities to experience what greatness feels like.”
Ware concludes his remarkable 12-year career with 138.5 sacks registered to his name, which is the eighth-most in league history. All retired players in the top 10 have been inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Ware should join that club in five years when he’s eligible to be voted in.
Among all players who played a minimum of 100 games in their career, Ware’s average of 0.78 sacks per game rank third behind only Reggie White (0.85) and Lawrence Taylor (0.79).
Drafted No. 11 overall by the Cowboys in 2005, Ware quickly proved to be a force to be reckoned with off the edge, giving opposing offenses nightmares. A nine-time Pro Bowl selection and a four-time First-Team All-Pro, Ware often drew comparisons to the greatest pass rushers in NFL history for his freakish athleticism, lightning-fast first step off the snap, and persistent motor.
Few pass rushers in the game have been as disruptive to an offensive game plan as Ware has, as he averaged 14.7 sacks a season between 2006 and 2012 – leading the league in sacks in the 2008 and 2010 seasons with Dallas.
Ware’s production declined due to injuries in the past three years with the Denver Broncos, but his leadership and playmaking ability helped Denver’s top-ranked defense in 2015 singlehandedly win Super Bowl 50. During the 2015 postseason, Ware preyed on quarterbacks, collecting 3.5 sacks, eight quarterback hits, and 11 hurries in only three games.
Not many players have left their mark on the league the way Ware has. One of the best players to ever stick his hand in the dirt, Ware’s presence both on and off the field will be sorely missed by fans, teammates, coaches, and opponents throughout the NFL.