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DeMarcus Ware: The Mile High Report Interview

On Sunday May 4th, DeMarcus took part in the "Wings for Life World Run" sponsored by Red Bull right here in Denver.

The purpose of this event is to raise funds and awareness for people that have suffered a Spinal Chord Injury.  In uniting people and athletes around the world Wings for Life endeavors to "run for those that can't."  In 2009 DeMarcus suffered a spinal contusion in which he herniated several of the discs in his neck, temporarily losing feeling in his extremities.  He was fortunate, just a week later, Mr. Ware would take the field once again against the New Orleans Saints.  This experience undoubtedly stuck with the QB menacing rusher and years later he is offering this time, effort, and celebrity to help bring awareness to spinal injuries and champion the cause of so many that are unable to do so themselves.

Mr. Ware graciously volunteered some of his time to Mile High Report to discuss the Wings for Life World Run as well as other football related topics. The following is a transcript of the exclusive interview I conducted.

How did you get involved with Wings for Life?

"some things happen in life and makes you realize how blessed you are."

They're big advocates helping out in the community...a big thing they've been pushing this year for spinal research, and me just being a player that almost suffered a career ending spinal injury, I sort of know the sort things that what it feels like to not have or being able to use your limbs and function in a way that feels normal, so going out there running for them and raising awareness for them.

Can you talk a little bit about what happened to you on the field?

In 2009 I had a big spinal impact where I herniated some discs in my neck and was carted off the field...but I was able to you know sort of recover from that within a week period--I was playing against the Saints the next week---It was almost a career ending injury for me.

Did you experience numbness/loss of feeling or anything in your extremities during that week or was it just right when the injury happened?

It was right when the injury happened.

Did it affect anything else, sleep patterns or your system as a whole?

It didn't think it had any big affect on me....but you know, just knowing that just being blessed with the opportunity of being able to play again it always strengthened your faith...and that's one thing that it did affect, some things happen in life and makes you realize how blessed you are.

Did you experience scary thoughts as it happened on the field?

Well, on the field, I couldn't fathom myself never playing football never think about being that guy, a player carted off the field and I was that guy and so that was my rude awakening.

With "the run for life" the people start off the race and then there will be a car that starts a half hour later and if the car passes you then you're officially out of the race.  Have you been passed yet?

Oh yeah (laughing), I was passed early this morning.  I was the guy that was rooting everybody on, I got tired myself, but I think it was just a great opportunity to be in the race and raise awareness for some people that are going through some things in their life.

"When you think about defense you think about dominance, think about what you bring to the game and week in week out being consistent in that area of not giving up many points--no matter what the offense does you have your own identity."

Have you gotten to meet anybody individually who may be in a wheel chair who has that sort of injury, have you made any connections through this cause?

I have and there was a couple at the end where I helped push them up the hill.  It's funny that she had some wings on in the race...just a sort of funny sight, but you realize the reason why you're doing that, I mean they were able to actually finish a race and I think that's awesome.

Have you had the opportunity to move here yet or are you kind of in-between here and Texas?

I've been back and forth, just been getting acquainted with my teammates and workin' out and seein' how Denver is.

What are your initial impressions so far?

It's a big outdoors state, that's one thing I kind of like, fishing, hunting, white water rafting, snowboarding, skiing, anything has to do with extracurricular activities with athletics like that....I think it's a really great city-I haven't felt the snow yet.  The heat is treating me well unlike Texas.

We just had the first phase of OTA's, what are your initial impressions of the Broncos, the Defense, your teammates, just some initial thoughts that you have?

It's just a great organization, I see how things are done and they do it the right way,  and they really want to win.  They're taking every step that there is to make sure they're able to make it to the top again.  It's great to be a part of Denver and that Bronco organization.

What was the #1 selling point for you?

When you think about tradition just how they play the game and the research and everything that they do to make sure the players are healthy-that's one thing that I looked into, but also they are in a "win now" sort of mentality and I'm the same way.  Just having John Elway, and Fox, and all the coaches get together and give their philosophy to let you know that everybody's on the same page.

The team as it transitioned from last year to this year lost some defensive captains, what do you bring to the table as far as a leader and what do you envision your roll being as far as that goes?

I think the main thing here is I lead by example, that's one thing that I do really well, but as a veteran guy you bring that knowledge in to a lot of them younger guys that come in and sort of teach them some things that you learned over the years.  (Inaudible) I'm just talking about defensively and you teach those guys a lot and they're ready to bring that tenacity to the game and they're ready to play, they're ready to learn, so I'm trying to be that big brother to all the guys on the team and the main thing is just fitting in and getting the job done as a group.

You talk about trying to develop a mentality on defense, what is the #1 thing that you're trying to establish on the defensive side of the ball as far as mentality?

When you think about defense you think about dominance, think about what you bring to the game and week in week out being consistent in that area of not giving up many points--no matter what the offense does you have your own identity...I think establishing an identity that can't be broken with the defense and the 11 guys on that side of the field.

Who are some of your all-time favorite pass rushers?

Reggie White, trickling down to Bruce Smith and other guys that I look up to like Michael Strahan or a Jason Taylor,

"at the end of the day you have to go out there and be yourself..."

you keep going down a list they're always the really consistent guys in how they play.

Is there any current or past player that you would compare yourself to?

I think I'm a little but of....the power of Michael Strahan, but the quickness of a Jason Taylor, so I just try to emulate some moves and things of those guys and try to perfect them every year.

Do you look at (rushing the passer) it as sort of a chess match trying to set up that player across from you?

I think week in and week out you got to come up with some type of good strategy, plan for the guy you're going against, but at the end of the day you have to go out there and be yourself and be that technician figure out when you need to tweak things to beat the guy across the field from you.

What do you view as your strengths?  What is your ultimate strength as a player?

I think stamina...when you're talking about being able to be out there for a long period of time without getting tired, but also just being a technician, being consistent-doing the same things over and over again to be successful.

Talk a little bit about your family.

I have a little son and daughter, my little son is 3, my little daughter is 6.  Other than that, I have a great little close-stitched family and they're looking forward to coming to Denver.

Did You Know?

  • Ware has led the league in sacks twice (2008, 2010) and is tied with Mark Gastineau, Reggie White, Kevin Greene, Michael Strahan, and Jared Allen as the only players to accomplish this record. 
  • Ware recorded 10+ sacks in seven consecutive seasons becoming only the 3rd player in NFL history to accomplish this feat (Reggie White, John Randle). 
  • Ware is the 2nd fastest player to reach 100+ sacks and is currently resting in 117.
  • Ware has sacked QB Peyton Manning once in his career.  That sack came in a 21-14 win for Dallas back in 2006.
  • Ware is the first member of his family to graduate from college. 

On behalf of Mile High Report and Broncos fans everywhere, I would like to thank DeMarcus for his charitable contributions as well as for taking the time to conduct this interview.