DENVER — DeMarcus Ware arrived in Denver with a Crest-commercial smile and a gnawing pain.
His resume lacked one thing: a Super Bowl ring.
In 2015 that changed. Ware battled through nagging back pain, inspired his team along with Peyton Manning and wrote a diary of havoc in the playoffs. The season ended in a rain shower of gold confetti in a smothering of the Carolina Panthers.
"After the game, I was in the locker room, and it was really quiet. And I looked up at the Ware placard, and the trophy was there at my locker. I was just shaking. I teared up," Ware told Denver7. "Then I got a nudge on my shoulder. It was Peyton. We just looked at each other. We didn't have to say anything. We did it. I will remember that moment forever."
Ware added a bookend to his championship Thursday with the greatest individual accomplishment — he was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He was joined by cornerback Darrelle Revis, tackle Joe Thomas, linebacker Zach Thomas, cornerback Ronde Barber, coach Don Coryell, defensive lineman Joe Klecko, Ken Riley and former Dallas Cowboys star Chuck Howley.
Ware built the bulk of his resume with the Cowboys, earning All-Pro honors eight times in Dallas. In Denver, he became a captain, a guiding force for Von Miller, and a perfect fit for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips' relentless pass rush.
Ware posted 21.5 sacks for the Broncos in 36 regular-season games, making the Pro Bowl in 2014-2015. However, he forged his Denver legacy by playing his best when it mattered most.
In the 2015 playoffs, he delivered 10 tackles, 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble that helped give Denver its third Super Bowl title. Ware recognized the gravity of the moment the night before the biggest game of his life.
"I want everyone to get up, walk by and touch this trophy and dream about this trophy. At the end of this game, I promise you will be hoisting this trophy up," said Ware of what he told his teammates, who responded by playing to honor him. "You can be consistent your entire career, but the stats don't matter until later. I competed to beat somebody's butt. I competed to win and be the best. That Super Bowl was the icing on the cake. That is why I played the game. I could say I was a champion."
And now Ware can finally say he's a Hall of Famer, the 13th Broncos player in Canton who has spent multiple seasons in Denver.
"On behalf of the Denver Broncos, we congratulate DeMarcus Ware on his well-deserved election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 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," said Broncos CEO Greg Penner.
"We join Broncos Country in celebrating DeMarcus as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023.”