Former Dallas Cowboys linebacker/defensive end DeMarcus Ware took the first step toward becoming the 21st member of the organization to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame when was named among 122 players listed at modern-era nominees for the Class of 2022.
Ware headlines a list of 10 first-year eligible players and should be a shoo-in for induction.
Ware played 9 years with the Cowboys after being picked 11th overall in 2005. He is team’s all-time leader in sacks. He played his final three seasons with the Denver Broncos and won Super Bowl 50 following the 2015 season.
He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team of the 2000s. the Cowboys all-time leader in sacks. He was a seven-time All-Pro (including four first-team nominations) and a nine-time Pro Bowler. He twice led the league in sacks (2008, 2010).
He is one of 11 players with at least 20 sacks in a season. He had seven straight seasons of 11 sacks or more.
Ware had 35 forced fumbles, 25 pass deflections, 171 tackles for loss and one touchdown in his 12-year career.
He finished his career ninth all-time in sacks with 138.5
Six of the eight pass-rushers ahead of Ware on the all-time sack list eligible to be in the Hall of Fame have been inducted: Bruce Smith, Reggie White, Kevin Greene, Chris Doleman, Michael Strahan and Jason Taylor. The other two, Julius Peppers and Terrell Suggs, retired after the 2018 and 2019 seasons, respectively, and not yet eligible.
The only thing missing from his resume is a Hall of Fame jacket and that should come in 2022.
The others first-time nominees are wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Devin Hester (also PR/KR), Andre Johnson and Steve Smith; offensive linemen Jake Long and Nick Mangold; defensive linemen Robert Mathis and Vince Wilfork; and defensive back Antonio Cromartie.
With Ware as the only sure thing among the modern-era nominees there is renewed hope for former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson, who has been a Hall of Fame semi-finalist five times.
In 12 seasons, Woodson is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in tackles with 1,350. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time All Pro and had 23 career interceptions. He was also member of three Super Bowl title teams in 1990s.
Woodson is considered as good or better than Steve Atwater and John Lynch, two safeties who inducted in the last two classes.
The list of modern-era nominees will be reduced to 25 semifinalists in November and, from there, to 15 finalists in January.