FRISCO, Texas – DeMarcus Ware said he hasn't spoken to Tony Romo in the last few weeks.
But he gets it.
He knows what his former teammate his going through because he's basically going through the same process.
Ware and Romo, teammates on the Cowboys for nine seasons, have both decided to retire this month for similar reasons. Injuries have caught up to both of them, maybe not to the point where they can't play anymore, but not to the level they're used to.
And for Ware, that was his main reason for deciding to retire, which officially occurred on Tuesday when he signed a one-day contract with the Cowboys.
"It's hard sometimes when you know you can be productive in your mind but your body is not going to hold up for a whole season," Ware said. "(And Tony) is one of those type guys when you sit on the sidelines and you can't do what you know you can do, it hurts the most. You know you can help the team. I haven't talked to him but I know that feeling. I was on the sideline for two years (battling) a back injury."
Ware offered up a story – perhaps one of the defining moments of his career – that describes that feeling even more. During the 2009 season, he suffered a scary neck injury in a game against the Chargers that saw him carted off on a stretcher. While there were initial thoughts of his playing career being over or at least the rest of the season, Ware not only returned to action, but did so just six days later when the Cowboys went to New Orleans to face the 13-0 Saints.
Ware was supposed to play on third downs only, but after the Saints challenged him early in the game by running at him, it changed everything.
"That really pissed me off," Ware said. "I told my team I was going to stay on the field and keep playing. I couldn't just play on third downs. I think that really helped our whole team when I did that."
The Cowboys were able to knock off the eventual Super Bowl champs to give the Saints their first loss of the season. Ware recorded two sacks, including the game-clinching play in the final minute when he sacked Drew Brees and forced a fumble.[embeddedad0]
"You can't play down there at a lower level because your body won't let you," Ware said. "I just couldn't play on third downs that day. I didn't want to let the team down. I think (Romo) probably feels the same way. You can still do it on some level, but not what you're used to."
If there is a difference in how the two players have ended their careers, it's the list they've been placed on.
Ware was signed back to the Cowboys, who have then placed him on reserve/retired. That means if he ever decides to play again, the Cowboys would have his rights.
As for Romo, he was simply released. While he is headed to CBS to broadcast NFL games next year, the former quarterback would be free to sign with any team if he chooses to return to the game.