DeMarcus Ware, the former Broncos pass rusher who helped lead Denver to its third Super Bowl victory, has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility.
A four-time first-team All-Pro, three-time second-team All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowler, Ware was one of the most productive defensive players in pro football history. Since the league began tracking sacks in 1982, only eight players have recorded more quarterback takedowns than Ware, and he is one of just 12 players to record 20 or more sacks in a single season.
"On behalf of the Denver Broncos, we congratulate DeMarcus Ware on his well-deserved election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Broncos Owner & CEO Greg Penner said in a statement. "DeMarcus became a Super Bowl champion as a Bronco, cementing his legacy as one of the greatest pass rushers in NFL history on one of the greatest defenses of all-time. His leadership, professionalism and many clutch performances are fondly remembered throughout our organization. We join Broncos Country in celebrating DeMarcus as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023."
Ware is the second player from the Broncos' Super Bowl 50 team to become a Hall of Famer, joining quarterback Peyton Manning, who was inducted in 2021. Ware is the 13th person to be elected after spending multiple seasons with the Broncos, and the 15th who spent time with the team in a regular season.
Shortly after his entry into the NFL as a first-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2005, Ware put himself on a path to greatness. From 2005 through 2008, he recorded 53.5 sacks, which is the fourth-highest total by a player in their first four seasons since 1982.
Over his nine seasons in Dallas, Ware became the league's premier pass rusher. In 2008 and 2010, he led the NFL in sacks, and he was picked to be a first-team All-Pro four times, in addition to seven Pro Bowl selections.
Following the 2013 season, Ware became a free agent for the first time in his career. The Broncos, who were coming off a loss in Super Bowl XLVIII, pushed to add Ware as part of a star-studded free agency class to get them over the top. That was just what Ware wanted.
"There was one thing that really drew me to the Broncos, and that was winning a championship," Ware said in 2020. "Knowing that a lot of things were already in place with Peyton being there, they already had a [near] top-five defense, but I knew there were a couple of things that were missing, which were some leadership there and maybe someone with a little bit more bite. What I mean by that is sometimes when you win so many games and you get to the championships and you take for granted that you can't ever get back there again. The Denver Broncos, they were used to winning and getting to that point, but I felt like they needed that edge — that sword — to get them to where they needed to be. For me in my career, you know that I had maybe made the playoffs one time. I was so used to losing and I got tired of it. So I came to the Denver Broncos with the type of edge that I feel like the team needed, and it got us to the point of winning Super Bowl 50."
In Ware's first year in Denver, the Broncos came up short of the ultimate goal, but with his 10-sack season, the team got a glimpse at just how dominant Ware could still be, especially as a pass-rushing bookend with Von Miller.
Following that Pro Bowl season, Ware and the Broncos defense rounded into form under leadership from coordinator Wade Phillips. Denver's defense became the league's most dominant force — a group that at times scored touchdowns as easily as they stopped them. The root of that was the Broncos' relentless pass rush, and Ware was a central figure, though injuries sidelined him for a significant chunk of the 2015 season.
Ware returned in time to help push Denver to the AFC's top postseason seed in the final weeks of the regular season. His fumble recovery in overtime against the Bengals clinched a crucial win in Week 16, and he added a sack in the season finale as Denver beat the Chargers.
In the playoffs, Ware was as good as ever. He recovered a fumble that gave Denver the go-ahead score in the AFC Divisional Round, and he tallied seven quarterback hits on Tom Brady in the AFC Championship. Two weeks later, Ware sacked Cam Newton twice in Super Bowl 50 as Denver took down the Panthers.
The next season would be his last. Though his season was shortened by injuries, Ware was still able to add four sacks to his career total, bringing him into the top 10 in league history with other pass-rushing legends like Michael Strahan and Lawrence Taylor.
This summer, Ware will take his rightful place alongside those greats and many others.
Flip back through photos of DeMarcus Ware's three years in Denver during his Hall of Fame career, from when he signed as a free agent to winning Super Bowl 50 and beyond.