Does DeMarcus Ware get enough respect?

June, 29, 2011
6/29/11
11:00
AM ET
Over the last week, there is this debate as to just how good Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware is.

It's clear the players, in a poll conducted by NFL.com, don't believe he's the best defensive player in the game, or for that matter ranked among the Top 10 players in the game.

Ware is ranked 12th overall by his peers. He also wasn't ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN NFL bloggers' rankings, either. Ware again was 12th, receiving just three votes from the eight-man panel.

There is this perception that Ware, at least overall, isn't better than Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu on some of these polls when it comes to being a top defender. The facts would indicate something else: Ware is one of the most, if not the most, dangerous defensive player in the league.

Last season, he led the NFL with 15.5 sacks, which also included an NFL-leading 8.5 on third down. That means opposing offenses get off the field when Ware gets after them. He also had 4.5 sacks in the fourth quarter, tied for sixth in the league.

What probably hurts Ware is he's not knocking helmets off or getting fined, which draws publicity, though he did get clipped for $12,500 for a hit on then-Detroit Lions quarterback Jon Kitna in 2007 as payback for some comments he made about Bradie James.

Ware doesn't have a deep raspy voice like Ray Lewis or some other defenders, which gives off the perception that he's a tough guy. He's not pumping up the team or defensive players prior to the game like Keith Brooking and James do.

All Ware does is take care of his business in a soft-spoken way. Ware does his leading behind closed doors. He's learned plenty about leadership from former player Greg Ellis, who wasn't shy about sharing his techniques and handling things in the locker room.

If you talk to Ware on a regular basis during the season and ask him how he's defended, he'll admit he's regularly double-teamed. Offenses just don't do that to every pass rusher in the league.

When it came to the best pass rusher in the game, our bloggers got it right when they ranked him first. When it comes to the best players in the game, Ware should be in the discussion. He definitely has more of an impact than Polamalu, whom CBS's Pete Prisco says is one of the most overrated player in the league.

Ware is probably one of the NFL's best at being a game-changer. NFC East blogger Dan Graziano said Ware is the best intimidator in the game.

Prisco has Ware as the third-best player in the game.

We know Ware is respected locally. But nationally, across the league, is he really getting it?
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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