ARLINGTON, Texas –DeMarcus Ware still remembers the day that changed his life: Draft Day, 2005, sitting in a hotel conference center in Auburn, Ala., with his family.
"All of a sudden you get that phone call and it was that 214 (area code) number," Ware said. "I didn't know what 214 means, but I do now. It was Dallas."
Ware collected the eighth-most sacks in NFL history (138.5) over nine seasons in Dallas and three with the Denver Broncos. Now, almost a year after his ceremonial retirement press conference at The Star in Frisco, Ware is teaming up with the Cowboys to give back to the North Texas region.
Thursday, the Cowboys announced that Ware and Drew Pearson will be community ambassadors for a multitude of youth outreach initiatives focused around the April 26-28 NFL Draft, which will take place at AT&T Stadium for the first time ever.
Views from the press conference announcing DeMarcus Ware and Drew Pearson as Community Ambassadors for upcoming youth outreach initiatives focused around April's NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium.
"The Dallas Cowboys are excited to use the energy that surrounds the NFL Draft to showcase the values that the game of football teaches youth," said Charlotte Anderson, Cowboys executive vice president and chief brand officer. "These qualities – leadership, character, teamwork, diligence and determination – go beyond the game and provide a lasting impact for entire communities. Football can create a spirit of community and we look forward to sharing that experience with the nation before and during Draft Week."
Thursday at AT&T Stadium, Anderson, Ware and Arlington ISD (AISD) Superintendent Dr. Marcelo Cavazos outlined the first of several community programs associated with the upcoming NFL Draft.
One is the AISD Community Quarterback High School Football Volunteer Challenge, where six AISD high school football teams will execute a service project that impacts their campus, neighborhood or feeder community. The other is an AISD Mentorship Program in which student-athletes across all sports, boys and girls, will mentor their junior-high counterparts.
"It's just a great opportunity to use the draft, use football to really make an impact in this Arlington area. And that's what we're doing," Ware said. "We're trying to start with the elementary schools going all the way to high school with great initiatives, with Play 60, with quarterback programs that we have, to really make a big impact that's everlasting. It's going to be really nice."
Other initiatives will include:
AT&T Stadium hosting a football-themed art display created by AISD fifth-graders; a youth and wellness celebration for elementary-age students from AISD and other Metroplex schools whose schools achieved Touchdown status with the Fuel Up to Play 60 program; and a Jeopardy-like game show at The Star in Frisco involving junior-high students and other select North Texas schools that will reflect the core values of the United Way's NFL Character Playbook LIVE initiative.
The Cowboys will also host a variety of youth football activities at The Star in Frisco in conjunction with the NFL and USA Football.
"The value here is what the game does for community, the impact that it has beyond the field," Anderson said. "And I think we see that as it extends into community. You see it at the high school level. You see it all the way down, that it takes a community that builds a player. And in turn, the players can reach back out and build the community along the way."