DeMarcus Ware retired from football in March. But on Monday, Ware officially retired as a Dallas Cowboy, signing a ceremonial contract with the team that selected him in the first round in 2005. In his nine years in Dallas, Ware became the franchise leader in sacks (117), was named to the Pro Bowl seven straight seasons (2006-12) and led the NFL in sacks twice, including 20 in 2008.

“This right here is a lifetime opportunity,” Ware said at a Monday news conference, flanked by owner and general manager Jerry Jones, executive vice president Stephen Jones and coach Jason Garrett. “As a kid, you usually don’t think about [that], when you’re sitting in the backyard and you’re playing for America’s Team. Yeah, you play for America’s Team, but you’ve etched yourself in the star’s history and that means something to me.”

Ware spent his final three seasons with the Denver Broncos, winning Super Bowl 50, but seriously considered returning to the Cowboys before free agency began in March. “I contemplated, do I really want to put the pads back on?” said Ware, who turns 35 in July. “You can always have the passion for the game, but your body and having great health after football was more important to me when I started to think about my 6-year-old son [and] my little 9-year-old daughter. That was the most important thing for me, [but] it was hard, I’m going to let you know right now.”

Jerry Jones called Ware the “perfect player.” Garrett called Ware a “special guy.” Ware retires with 138.5 sacks, eighth in NFL history. All six of the retired players ahead of Ware on the list have been selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “They’re going to give him a Hall of Fame jacket in five years, I know that,” Garrett said.

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