Tell me again, someone, anyone, why Jerry Jones thought the way to the Super Bowl was cutting DeMarcus Ware?
Too old? Too expensive? Too often injured?
Than whom, exactly? Because in the winter of his 11th NFL season, nine of which were spent in vain with the Dallas Cowboys, Ware is here at Super Bowl 50, and Owner Jones — again — is not.
“It takes a team to get to this point,” Ware said Tuesday, wearing his Denver Broncos jersey. “I talked to Tony Gonzalez a couple of days ago and he said, ‘You know, I never had that opportunity.’
“He played, what, 17 years in the league and didn’t make it? So this right here, it’s big. It makes you think.”
Yes, it does. It makes me think Owner Jones made another terrible mistake.
Two years ago, ablaze amidst the purgatory of the NFL salary cap, Jones concluded that with all of Ware’s aches and limps, plus with the $16 million crater that DeMarcus was about to leave on the team’s cap, the Cowboys could no longer afford to keep their best pass rusher.
Jones, as it turned out, had to go to the police blotter to replace Ware — all the way down the felony scale to Greg Hardy, who hasn’t nearly been worth the trouble.
Ware, therefore, was released March 11, 2014. And on the next day, the Broncos signed him to a three-year, $30 million contract, with $20 million guaranteed.
Worth it? The Super Bowl patch on Ware’s jersey proves that it was.
It also makes you think.
“I wish Jason Witten was here,” Ware said when asked about his former teammates. “Or [Tony] Romo was here. Jay Ratliff, Chris Canty — the guys who, when we were younger, we always thought about this. I wish those guys were here.”
Owner Jones is on record as regretting having let Ware go. But this is also the same general manager who helped push Bill Parcells out the door by signing locker room nuisance Terrell Owens. This is the same Jones who traded for receivers Roy Williams and Joey Galloway and who gave Marion Barber a seven-year, $45 million contract.
Few NFL franchises have juggled the chronic salary cap chain saws that Jones and the Cowboys have. Surely, Jerry, there’s an app for that.
Denver GM John Elway, however, was more than eager to sign Ware to a free-agent deal and ask him to help anchor the Broncos’ defense.
“That’s why he signed me, and why he drafted [Aqib] Talib and T.J. [Ward] — to bring that grit to our defense,” Ware said. “We already had the offense. They were scoring 35, 45 points a game, but there was a missing piece.”
Ware fully embraced the idea of being the missing piece.
“Sometimes,” he said Wednesday, “when you go to a place or leave from a place where you get released, and you’re going to a place where they want you, that sort of sparks a little bit of fire in you.
“I think that’s what Elway did for all of us guys.”
In Denver, Ware has been reunited with former Cowboys coach Wade Phillips. “He talks by the way he calls his plays,” Ware said.
When Ware left the Cowboys, he was the franchise’s all-time sacks leader (117). He missed five games because of injuries this season, but upon returning he has looked more and more like the DeMarcus of old.
He is one of the leaders now, so much so that coach Gary Kubiak asked Ware to speak to the team on the night before the AFC Championship Game.
“Every year you always feel like you’re going to make the Super Bowl,” Ware said, “but you’re never able to finish it out. After 11 years, you can see how hard it is to get to this point, to reach this level.
“You have to live in the moment. You have to cherish where your feet are.”
Teammate Talib said Ware’s Saturday night speech was one of the best he’d ever heard. It made him and all the Denver Broncos think.
And me, too.
In the winter of DeMarcus Ware’s 11th NFL season, he has finally made it to the Super Bowl.
And I think Owner Jones made a Super-sized mistake.