Ware was born on July 31, 1982, in Auburn, Alabama. Ware played football, basketball, baseball, and ran track in high school; he attended Auburn High School (with defensive end Osi Umenyiora and linebacker Marcus Washington). In football, Ware played both linebacker and wide receiver, and as a senior, he won every game, and was named the team's Most Valuable Wide Receiver and Most Valuable Linebacker, and won Top Leadership honors. He finished his senior season with seven sacks and 55 total tackles (40 solo tackles, 15 assisted tackles).
He finished his college career with 27.5 sacks, 195 tackles (57 for losses), 74 quarterback hurries, ten forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and one interception. His 27.5 sacks rank second in school history for sacks in a career, and his 57 tackles for losses rank first in school history.
2005 NFL Draft
A defensive end at Troy, Ware was considered a "tweener DE/OLB prospect" by most scouts. He was supposed to be a perfect fit as rush linebacker in 3-4 defense prior the 2005 NFL Draft and was projected to go early in the second round by Sports Illustrated. Prospect Marcus Spears was considered by head coach Bill Parcells to be the key to the team's eventual move to a 3-4 defense and wanted to take him with the first selection (11th overall pick). Owner/GM Jerry Jones overruled Parcells and selected Ware instead, who the team thought would not be available later in the draft. Spears was selected by the Cowboys with the 20th overall pick.
Ware also was credited with a 430-pound bench press, a 570-pound squat and a 360-pound power clean.
In his NFL debut against San Diego Chargers Ware posted three tackles, one for a loss, and a quarterback pressure. The Cowboys won the game 28-24. In a match against San Francisco in Week 3, he recorded his first sack bringing down Tim Rattay. Ware earned the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month award for October after recording 16 tackles, three sacks, and seven quarterback pressures to help Dallas go 3-2. In Week 16, Ware recorded three sacks and three forced fumbles in a match against the Carolina Panthers. For that performance, Ware was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week and the Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Week. He also tied the Cowboys record for most sacks in a single game, held by Randy White. He finished with 58 total tackles, 14 tackles for losses and three forced fumbles. He tied Greg Ellis for a team-best eight sacks and joined Jimmie Jones as the only rookies to ever lead or tie for the Dallas Cowboys' team lead in sacks. Ware finished tied for 24th in the league in sacks in a year where Derrick Burgess led the league in sacks with 16.
In 2006, Ware ended the regular season with a team-high 11.5 sacks, the most ever by a Cowboys linebacker. This total broke Anthony Dickerson’s record of 10.5 from 1983. He added 73 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception, both returned for a touchdown. Ware was named a starter on the NFC Pro Bowl team and was also named Second-team All-Pro by The Associated Press. In Week 6 against division rival Eagles, Ware had a memorable moment with his 69-yard fumble return for his first NFL touchdown. He recorded his first career interception against Michael Vick in match against Atlanta Falcons and returned it for a 41-yard touchdown. Ware tied for 9th in the league in total sacks and Shawne Merriman led the league with 17 sacks.
Ware broke out with his 2007 season, leading new Cowboys' Head Coach Wade Phillips to call him the best outside linebacker in the league. Ware became the second Cowboy ever to record at least 14 sacks in a season, since Jim Jeffcoat in 1986. Ware also led the team in quarterback pressures (27), tackles for losses (8), and forced fumbles (4) while finishing with 80 tackles. Ware made his second straight Pro Bowl along with 12 other teammates. He was also selected to the All-Pro team for the second straight year along with teammates, Terrell Owens and Jason Witten. Ware finished tied for 3rd in the league behind Patrick Kerney (14.5 sacks) and Jared Allen (15.5 sacks).
In 2009, Ware was listed as the best 3-4 outside linebacker by Sporting News In October, Ware signed a six-year, $78 million contract, putting him among the top-five highest paid defenders in the NFL. Two months later, Ware suffered a neck injury and was taken off the field by a cart while playing against the San Diego Chargers. The injury was diagnosed later as a sprained neck. He was taken to the hospital for further tests, but was released the next day. He came back to play the very next week, against the then-undefeated New Orleans Saints, and recorded two sack-fumbles, including the one that ended the Saints' chances at a comeback. For this performance, he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He made his fourth consecutive appearance in the Pro Bowl as a starter in 2009, after leading the Cowboys with 11.0 sacks, a career-high 45 pressures, and five forced fumbles. He was also named to the First All-Pro team.
Ware recorded 15.5 sacks and led the NFL in that category for the second time in three seasons. He also made his fifth straight Pro Bowl and garnered another All-Pro nomination. By leading the NFL in sacks for the second time, Ware tied the record for most seasons leading the league in sacks with two. He tied Mark Gastineau, 1983–84; Reggie White, 1987–88; Kevin Greene, 1994, 1996; Michael Strahan, 2001, 2003 and Jared Allen, 2007, 2011.
In 2011, Ware had 19.5 sacks, 47 tackles, 2 pass deflections, and 2 forced fumbles. Ware ended the season only half sack away from both becoming the first player in NFL history to post multiple 20+ sack seasons and becoming the 29th player in NFL history to reach 100+ career sacks. Ware was also 2.5 sacks shy of becoming the first player ever to lead the league in sacks three times. Earlier in the season, Ware was on pace to pass Michael Strahan's sack record of 22.5 sacks in a season but fell short. On October 30, 2011, Ware recorded a career-high 4 sacks against the Philadelphia Eagles in a 34-7 loss. Ware finished second in the NFL in total sacks for 2011 behind Jared Allen who posted 22.0 sacks. Jason Babin finished third and Jason Pierre-Paul fourth with 18.0 and 16.5 sacks respectively. Ware was selected to the 2012 Pro Bowl as a starter and voted to the All-Pro team again.
On the season opener against the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants at MetLife Stadium, Ware recorded 2 sacks against Eli Manning to reach 101.5 sacks for his career. With these two sacks Ware became the 2nd fastest player (113 games) to reach 100 sacks behind Reggie White (96 games) while also becoming just the 29th player in NFL history to reach 100 or more sacks. At the end of the 2012 season, Ware finished with 11.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and was selected to his 7th Pro Bowl and was named to the 2nd All-Pro team. Ware was unable to play in the Pro Bowl after his off-season shoulder surgery. He endured a difficult season having to deal with a hamstring he tore in training camp, a fractured right wrist and losing mobility on his right arm in the last three games, because of a hyperextended elbow and a torn labrum that forced him to use an elbow and shoulder harness.
Due to the Cowboys switch to the 4-3 from the 3-4, under new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, DeMarcus moved to defensive end, along with Anthony Spencer, who started his NFL career opposite Ware at left side linebacker, but was a defensive end at college. Under Kiffin's system, Ware was able to dedicate himself as a pass-rusher. Despite becoming a pure pass rusher, on his first play as a defensive end, Ware picked off Giants quarterback Eli Manning. In week 3 against the St. Louis Rams, he became the Cowboys' all-time sack leader, surpassing Harvey Martin's 30-year-old record of 114.
After nine seasons with the Cowboys, Ware was released on March 11, 2014, making him a free agent for the first time in his career.
On March 12, 2014, one day following his release from the Cowboys, Ware signed a three-year, $30 million contract with the Denver Broncos. The deal included $20 million in guaranteed money. Ware would finish the season with 10 sacks and an interception.
Before the 2015 season, Ware was reunited with former head coach Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator. The Broncos finished the season with the #1 defense and a 12-4 record. Ware finished the season with 25 tackles and 7.5 sacks. He missed 5 games due to injury. In the Divisional round against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ware had 3 tackles and recorded the game winning sack to help the Broncos win 23-16. Ware advanced to the Championship game for the first time in his career. In the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots, Ware and the defense hit Tom Brady 27 times and got pressure on him the entire day. The Broncos held on to win 20-18. Ware advanced to the Super Bowl for the first time in his career. The Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50.
As of the end of the 2012 season, Ware has recorded 10+ sacks in 7 straight seasons. Only 2 other players in NFL history have more consecutive seasons with 10+ sacks: Reggie White (9), John Randle (8)
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports Senior NFL Columnist, ranked Ware as the 3rd best player in the NFL (behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady) going into the 2012 season and as the best defensive player in the NFL. In 2012, NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranked Ware as the best edge pass rusher in the league and a "top-five player in the NFL, regardless of position". The controversial NFL Top 100 for 2012 ranked Ware as the best rusher, best linebacker, 2nd overall defensive player behind defensive back Darrelle Revis (number 5 overall) and the 6th overall player in the NFL.
Ware is the second fastest player ever to reach 100+ sacks (Reggie White is the fastest) and just the 29th player in history to do so.
Ware recorded 28 multiple-sack games and 32 forced fumbles as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, both most in club history.
Ware has ranked in the top three in total sacks league-wide in 4 out of the last 5 seasons (3rd place in 2007, 1st place in 2008, 7th place in 2009, 1st place in 2010, 2nd place in 2011) and is recognized by many as one of the top defensive players in the league.
In March 2005, Ware married his high school sweetheart, Taniqua Smith, a former Air Force member and the daughter of a police officer. After three difficult pregnancies—including the birth and death of a son, Omar, in 2006—they adopted their daughter, Marley. They planned to become a foster family, as well as continue trying for a biological family, which they achieved with the birth of their son, DeMarcus, Jr., on November 20, 2010. DeMarcus and Taniqua divorced in 2012.