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Eatman: Injured Guys Be-Ware Of Playing Hurt
Shoulder surgery last offseason. Elbow surgery this offseason. Nagging neck and back injuries, along with a reoccurring hamstring issue.
Oh, and there’s a quad injury in the middle of last season – the only injury to actually keep him out of a game.
Now as the seven-time Pro Bowler has been officially released by the Cowboys, you have to wonder if DeMarcus Ware wishes he would’ve missed more time. Maybe things could’ve been different.
In sports, we love the stories about Jack Youngblood playing in the Super Bowl with a broken leg. Or Willis Reed’s miraculous return to the court. And Curt Schilling pitching in the playoffs with a bloody sock. Don’t forget Michael Jordan playing in the NBA Finals with the flu.
Those are some of the moments that we’ll always remember. And it’s moments like those, and even ones closer to home like Emmitt Smith’s 1993 season finale against the Giants, that put the perception in our heads that players should always, without fail, do whatever it takes to get on the field.
But when it doesn’t work out so well, playing hurt can be costly.
Ware is now proof of that.
This guy probably had no business playing the last few games of the 2012 season, but his team was in a playoff push. So he pushed along. He played with a bad back, a bad hamstring, a bad shoulder and two bad elbows. And guess what, he wasn’t that great because of it.
Ware limped to the end of that year with 11.5 sacks.
By last summer he seemed completely recharged. He was an absolute beast in training camp, making everyone worry about offensive tackle Tyron Smith’s future because he was getting beat every snap it seemed.
Ware picked off the first pass of the season against the Giants and had four sacks in the first four games. Then, the injuries hit once again. And while I don’t think he was as ineffective at the end of this year compared to the previous one, he wasn’t the Ware we all remembered.
You have to wonder if things would now be different if he had just shut it down for one of those years. Say he can’t go at all and is placed on IR. Is the result the same?
I don’t know the answer to that, and I doubt we’ll ever get one. Sure, he’s still going to be labeled injury-prone but he wouldn’t have put average tape on himself in the process.
The Cowboys have some other guys on this team who don’t seem to play at less than 100 percent. They sit out until they’re ready to go and maybe that’s the right approach.
Ware missed three games in the middle of this year and came back for the Saints game, where it appeared the quad injury was still giving him problems. And that’s the nature of a quad injury. Yeah, you can get it good enough to play, but that’s where your power comes from. I bet he never really had full strength in that leg the rest of the season.
And the elbows? That’s where your need your arms to bull-rush. He didn’t have elbow strength or quad strength, and therefore, he wasn’t beating many tackles, if any, by the end of the year.
Out of pride, and as someone trying not to make excuses, Ware told reporters last December he wasn’t hurt and vowed to play better. But he was hurt. He was more than hurt. But by saying that, it allows his critics to believe that he’s washed up because he’s not producing.
Well, maybe there’s a reason for it.
Who knows what’s next for Ware. Maybe his play has declined to the point where he’ll never be a factor. Maybe the injuries will be too much to overcome.
All I know is that he tried to play through it last year and the year before and it didn’t work. And in my opinion – an opinion that isn’t behind closed doors and not privy to all of the information – he’s been judged unfairly because of it.
But, good luck to him. I think Ware will eventually re-sign with the Cowboys, but probably for a one-deal before he goes into the Ring of Honor.