For 12 years, DeMarcus Ware made the NFL proud as one of its best ambassadors and most-skilled defenders, but all good things must come to an end.

The former Denver Bronco and Dallas Cowboy called his career this offseason, ending the nine-time Pro Bowler’s run as an elite defensive threat. Ware decided that all the bumps and bruises over his time were enough.

“You start thinking about your quality of life,” Ware told Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post. “You still have the desire to get out there and play and compete and win championships. But my body was talking to me.”

Ware now admits that he had played through agonizing pain in the 2015 playoffs and through the 2016 regular season as he dealt with a reoccurring back injury and a fractured forearm.

The 34-year-old decided that all the medication he had to take for his pain wasn’t worth continuing to play for a few more seasons.

“Football life is pretty short,” said Ware. “But your life after football is a long time, and what type of quality do you have?

” … Once I herniated my disc last season – and I played for like three games with a herniated disc – I’d sit down in meetings not knowing if I’d be able to get up. This is stuff people don’t know you go through because I love playing football.”

Now that Ware has ended his NFL journey, he feels relieved to be done with the pain and able to reflect on his career. The future Hall of Famer has a box of newspaper and magazine clippings, documenting his story over the years that he’s never looked at, until now.

“I told myself, ‘Don’t get caught up. Stay focused and keep your head down and everything will be all right,'” said Ware. “That’s always been my motto: If you don’t get caught up in the hype, you can do something great.”

Ware is still being secretive of the specifics of his future plans, but wants to remain close to football so he can influence and help younger players through their journeys.

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