Broncos: Thank-you, DeMarcus Ware

Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) reacts after sacking Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) in Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Denver Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware (94) reacts after sacking Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) in Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

After 12 seasons in the NFL, DeMarcus Ware has decided to retire as a Denver Bronco. Thank-you for everything, DeMarcus.

DeMarcus Ware, as he always was, was lined up on the right side of the line across from Carolina Panther Michael Oher. It was an unfair matchup in favor of Ware, but that wasn’t an uncommon occurrence for the nine time Pro Bowler.

The ball was snapped by Carolina and Oher extended giant his arms to make contact with Ware, but he was gone. Ware had gotten as low as he could, exploded off the line, and had gone under and around Oher before he could even make contact.

What resulted was a bone-crunching sack from the blind side by Ware on Panthers superstar quarterback Cam Newton, right when the clock struck zero and the teams went into the locker rooms at Super Bowl 50.

The Broncos were hyped up. They had all the momentum heading into the second half thanks to Ware’s epic last second sack.

When I think of DeMarcus Ware, that play comes to mind first. It was at that moment, I told myself; The Broncos are going to win Super Bowl 50, aren’t they?

Fast forward to today, and DeMarcus Ware has announced his retirement after twelve seasons in the NFL — nine with Dallas and his final three with Denver.

Ware hangs up the boots having recorded 138.5 career sacks, good for eighth all time. He was selected to nine Pro Bowls and was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008. Ware led the league in sacks twice, in 2008 and 2010 and won a Super Bowl ring with the Broncos in 2016.

Prior to his time in the NFL, Ware attended Troy University where he was named the Sun Belt conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award twice and made the conference team in 2003 and 2004.

After a standout collegiate career the Dallas Cowboys made Ware the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft.

Ware is one of the most decorated and successful players of this decade, and will go down as an all-time great pass rusher. He made his announcement in a statement posted on twitter today.

"“After a lot of thought and prayer, I’ve decided to accept the unknown and retire from my NFL career. 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 said in his statement."

Broncos GM John Elway also released a statement in the wake of Ware’s retirement, saying he is the epitome of what you want an NFL player to be.

"“He was a tremendous player in this league, a tremendous leader in the locker room and a great ambassador in the community. When DeMarcus became a Bronco three years ago, he was a big piece that helped us get over the top — an elite pass rusher who brought much-needed leadership to our team. DeMarcus joined the Broncos with a mission to win a World Championship. When you look at how he played during our Super Bowl 50 run, you saw how much he wanted to win,” Elway said."

The Broncos GM went on to say the team was fortunate to have Ware retire as a Bronco and that he looked forward to Ware’s Hall of Fame induction one day.

Ware’s number with the Broncos are fantastic — 63 solo tackles and 21.5 sacks across 37 games. But even when looking at the stats it’s hard to quantify just how important Ware has been to Denver these last three seasons.

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He has been instrumental in the Broncos’ defensive success, leading the team with his play and voice in the locker room. He has acted as a mentor to Von Miller, Shane Ray and just about everyone else on the team, teaching many what it takes to achieve sustained success at the top-level.

While it’s impossible to know, the Broncos may not make Super Bowl 50 if Ware didn’t decide to sign with the team in 2014.

Thank-you, DeMarcus Ware.

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Thank-you for everything you did for the Broncos, the community, and football in general. You have been a model player on and off the field and everybody wishes you the best in your future endeavors.