The question is asked whenever a legend retires.
Should he get in the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame?
Shortly after DeMarcus Ware announced his retirement on Monday, the debate ignited. Should the first-ballot inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame get a pillar in Memorial Plaza and his name on the facade at Mile High Stadium?
Before we go any farther with this, it’s important to point out that Pat Bowlen instilled a four-year requirement to get into the Ring of Fame. It’s good in thought, but you’re left in a situation like we have with Ware, who only played three years for the Broncos. John Lynch played only one season more in Denver but still got in.
As Adam Malnati and I revealed on the latest Mile High Report Radio Podcast, if the Ring of Fame committee put in Lynch, it has to do so for Ware. When you look at what the two did on the field, you can’t even compare them. Without Ware, Denver doesn’t win Super Bowl 50. But as was the case with Lynch, it’s more than just his performance on the field.
Lynch was touted for what he did in the locker room and community. As a sterling representative for the organization. So was Ware.
As Ian Henson pointed out in his tribute to Ware in our MHR staff story, less than 60 days into the second leg of his career with Denver, he was participating in a run across the world to raise awareness for spinal cord injuries. Ian added that there wouldn't be many weeks from that point on where you wouldn't see or hear of Ware supporting a local charity.
Ware was not only elite on the field, he was elite off of it.
Add in what Ware did to transform Von Miller into the player and man he is, what he did to help Demaryius Thomas, as I wrote about last offseason when Thomas went with Ware to South Africa, and is there really an argument for this? Look at what Shane Ray said about the chance to learn from one of the greatest to ever put on pads in this excellent Q&A with Robert Klemko:
From the day I got there we would work on hand drills after practice, or watch that extra 15 minutes of film. He helped me work on my technique every day. He told me I was going to be great and I didn’t have a choice if it was up to him, so he pushed me to be a better me every day. Even when I beat a guy and got a sack in practice, he always found a way to critique it and make me better. That just shows his leadership. ...
He’s someone who honestly and truly wanted others to be great and be happy. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation and a better mentor coming into the league.
One aspect that is thrown out is the length of time. That was used against Terrell Davis as a reason to keep him out of the Hall of Fame. Thankfully people realized the impact you leave isn’t measured by any length of time. As I said in regards to Davis, you can’t write the history of the NFL without him. The same holds true here. You cannot write the history of the Broncos without Ware.
Ware’s performance in the run to the Super Bowl was matched only by Miller’s, and that’s viewed as one of the best playoff showings in NFL history. This can’t be said enough: If Ware isn’t in Denver, it doesn’t win its third Lombardi Trophy.
Mr. B had good intentions with his four-year requirement, but there always are exceptions and this is one of them.
The Ring of Fame is meant for players who left an indelible imprint on the Broncos. It was only three years, but few in the history of the organization left an imprint like the one Ware has.
That’s a player who has earned a place in the Broncos Ring of Fame.