Ware then immediately signed retirement papers.
“Football, in general, where you start at is where you want to finish,” Ware said. “To come back here was a big deal for me, because I have so many memories. It was great at Denver, going there and winning a championship.”
Ware, 34, played nine years with the Cowboys and three with the Broncos. He could have continued his career, but having not played a full season since 2012 because of injuries, Ware chose to call it quits.
“I was actually in a hotel right down in Dallas, and I’m sitting there contemplating, and it’s so crazy,” Ware said. “My agent called me, and he’s like, ‘There are certain teams that are looking for you, and I’m going to be straight-up honest with you, one of those teams is the Dallas Cowboys.’ They called and said, ‘Hey, we want to meet.’ But they said, ‘He can’t come here and not sign. He’s not going to come here and leave this building without signing.’
“So I sat back and contemplated to myself, ‘Do I really want to put the pads back on?’ Because I feel like this game is about passion. You can always have a passion for the game, but your body, in having great health after football, is more important, was more important to me when I started to think about my little 6-year-old son that’s here now and my little 9-year-old daughter. So that was the most important thing for me. But it was hard. I’m going to let you know that right now. But I had to make a big decision.”
Ware’s 138.5 career sacks ranks eighth in NFL history, with a team-record 117 coming with the Cowboys. The Cowboys released him in 2014 to save $7.4 million against the salary cap.
He signed a three-year $30 million deal with the Broncos and ended up winning a Super Bowl ring in 2015.
“This is a rare guy, and what you have to realize is he’s a once-in-a-generation-type player,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “This guy doesn’t come around very often, and so if you’re looking for him in the draft every year, you ain’t going to find it. But it’s always good to start with a model of what you’re looking for not only as a player, but a rare player. Hard to block.
“Something we talk about all the time as offensive coaches is you break the huddle, and you’re looking for 94. Every snap you’ve got to figure out where he is. You have to have a plan for him. During his 12 years of his career, every offensive coach that he went against did that for 16 straight games every year, every snap. He’s that kind of a player. So disruptive. Changes the game. He did that for us. He did that for Denver at critical moments. Just an amazing, amazing football player.”
As Ware left the press room Monday, owner Jerry Jones asked a rhetorical question, “Do you all think he’s a first-ballot Ring of Honor man?”
“It’s something where, as a player, when you go to a stadium there are certain things you look at and one thing you look at is the ring,” Ware said of the Ring of Honor at AT&T Stadium. “All those names that are up there, that’s a pretty party right there. Being able to be part of that would be amazing.”
Ware also likely becomes the team’s next Hall of Famer. He will have to wait the mandatory five years, but then he likely earns his yellow jacket and his bust in Canton.
“They’re going to give him a Hall of Fame jacket in five years, I know that,” Garrett said.