“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
Iron sharpens iron. It was the de facto motto of the Denver Broncos’ run towards capturing their third Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl 50. DeMarcus Ware was their iron man.
No, he wasn’t such due to his ability to stay healthy. He was banged up near the end. I dub him such because he personified that verse.
Ware retired on Monday. He didn’t hold a press conference. He just posted a message to Twitter. Right up until the end, he epitomized class. He had offers to go elsewhere; some reportedly in the $7-8 million range. The 34-year-old likely could have contributed somewhere, but he isn’t the kind of guy that would have gone into anything if he didn’t feel he could give a team his all.
Though he did indeed contribute on the field, it is Ware’s contributions off the gridiron that the Broncos will miss the most. He set the tone, commanded respect and was a mentor, a leader through and through.
“He was life-changing,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller told the Denver Post. “It’s like a superhero moved in with you staying at your house every day. You get to see exactly how he lives his life, you get to see the behind-the-scenes work, you get to see how raw and real he is. He had a huge impact on my life and my career.”
Just how much does Miller value Ware, well…in an interview with Mile High Sports Magazine, he revealed that if he ever makes it to Canton, expect to see DeMarcus at the ceremony.
“I just try to move and operate in a way that’s going to help me improve and help my teammates improve,” Miller said. “Twenty years from now, when DeMarcus comes to do my Hall of Fame speech, the words that he says are the most important things to me.”
Ware made everyone around him better, both on and off the field. That impact is showcased by the regard his teammates hold for him. It was showcased in the outpouring of admiration that flowed in following the announcement that he was hanging up the cleats.
— Shane Ray (@StingRay56) March 13, 2017
For Ware, Ray could have represented an impediment, a youngster gunning for his job, a tell-tale sign that the end was near. Only Ware can say for certain if he felt that way. His actions told a different story. By all accounts, Ware served as a mentor for Ray.
It is that selfless nature that will stand out when I think of Ware; him valuing the good of the whole instead of himself. Mind you, my interactions with Ware were limited, but he was always courteous, respectful and insightful. Albeit small, he left his mark on many; small or big, near or far.
I can only assume the impact he had on the locker room, but the notion is certainly supported by his teammates and coaches. Furthermore, I can report on what I see. I see the outpouring of love from teammates, coaches and even John Elway; who called Ware “the epitome of what an NFL player should be.” (Find more here.)
Ware was also active in the community, giving back to those less fortunate than he.
Thank you, @DeMarcusWare.
— Broncos Off Field (@BroncosOffField) March 13, 2017
I encourage you to scroll through Ware’s Twitter page. What do you see? Above all else, what I notice, what stands out, are the inspirational messages. Even on something as simple as a social media feed, he finds a way to enlighten.
On the field, Ware will go down as one of the greats. His 138.5 sacks rank eighth all-time, he is a Super Bowl champion, a four-time All-Pro and a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. It’s very possible the Broncos don’t capture that Super Bowl without him. Not just because he was a beast in the playoffs, either.
You will probably never see Ware on the Broncos’ Ring of Fame. He was not in the Mile High City for the requisite four seasons. Still, he will forever be revered in Broncos Country, and rightfully so.
Now, there are plenty of people penning their love for Ware. Chances are, I am not doing anything groundbreaking by writing this. I am totally okay with that. This is an industry that highlights the mistakes of athletes a lot more than they praise them for doing good. Want to know why so many people are praising Ware?
Plain and simple, because he deserves it.