NFL Any Era: DeMarcus Ware

January, 25, 2012
1/25/12
1:30
PM ET
ESPN.com IllustrationEven a QB as elusive as Hall of Famer Steve Young may have a hard time avoiding DeMarcus Ware.
Day 3 of the NFL Any Era Team project brings us to our first NFC East player, Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware. In case you haven't been paying attention, the NFL Any Era Team is a list of the top current 20 players, as determined by a panel of 20 Hall of Fame players and Hall of Fame writer John Clayton, who could have played in any NFL era. We are revealing four per day, and Nos. 9-12 were revealed today. Ware, often regarded as the league's best pass-rusher, came in at No. 12. That's why you see here a cool, old-looking photo illustration of him sacking Steve Young, which never actually happened but, according to our panel, certainly could have.

"When you say tough guy I'm thinking DeMarcus Ware," Hall of Fame former Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green said. "I'm talking about a guy who has to go against double-teams all game long, with the line trying to kill him on every play and with backs chipping on him -- that stuff hurts. There's toughness there in terms of your mind being able to overcome and take on a double team all day long, or you fight through everything and almost getting the sack or you would have had it had the back not chipped you.

"I give the D ends a lot of credit for being tough, for being able to take on double and triple teams all day long, and for the frustration of being a big guy and then having a little bit guy try and chip you. That's why I like Ware. He exemplifies how I feel about the great defensive ends and all they have to face."

Ware is playing in an era in which getting to the quarterback has become the most important aspect of playing defense, and he's as good at doing it as any player in the league. Our panel ranked him ahead of fellow pass-rushers Jared Allen and Dwight Freeney, who came in 16th and 17th, but behind Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who came in 10th. We'll see over the next two days how many current pass-rushers are in the top eight. But Ware got his share of respect from the panel.

"I love DeMarcus Ware's style of play," Hall of Fame former Cowboys tackle Rayfield Wright said. "He is very active and aggressive. He seems to understand his role as far as the team is concerned and he plays it very well."

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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