Let me preface this by stating that I am a huge DeMarcus Ware fan.
I loved him coming out of Troy.
I loved him in the early days when Mike Zimmer was conservative and didn’t let him blitz.
I loved him when, as a result of that lack of blitzing, people erroneously thought Shawne Merriman was better than him.
I loved him most when I found out about his personal life involving his attempt at fatherhood.
Finally, I love him as a person because he embodies what is right about football.
With all that “love” how can I be writing this article?
Well it’s quite simple actually. DeMarcus Ware’s inclusion on the NFL All-Decade Team representing the 2000s is a ridiculous selection and represents something that we have unfortunately become way too familiar with this decade.
Members of the Associated Press and Hall of Fame Committee are given the foremost power to determine how “good” a player is every year by nominating them to the All-Pro team for that given year or into the Hall of Fame. Rarely, in the case of the former, does the team truly include players that are the best at their position for that given season but in reality merely includes the players with the most media hype that given season.
Over the past three years alone, there have been plenty of gaffes by these so-called “experts” in selecting who should be placed on the All-Pro team and who should receive an Associated Press award. Examples that immediately come to mind are Ryan Clady, Jared Allen, Adrian Wilson, Ray Lewis, and Elvis Dumervil making the team this year or Bob Sanders winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2007.
Despite the constant gaffes by the Associated Press, their word is continually taken as bond and receives little to no backlash in comparison to the other merited team at the end of the year...the Pro Bowl.
The Pro Bowl is constantly insulted because the “wrong” players got in, yet there is never backlash for the wrong players getting All-Pro nods. Surely these people are aware of the fact that All-Pro bids mean more right?
So when I saw DeMarcus Ware’s name on the All-Decade team I wasn’t shocked because the team was voted on by the same panel of know-nothing writers parading themselves as football fans. In reality, they are journalists first, fans second.
These journalists are members of either the Associated Press, the Hall of Fame Committee or both. In fact, 19 members - or 38 percent - of the Associated Press are also committee members for the 44 man Hall of Fame Committee. This means that 43 percent of the Hall of Fame Committee is also Associated Press. These 19 members are to be heretofore refered to as "the writers"
I am happy for Ware because he’s an excellent player, but he is most certainly not deserving of this decade’s team. Ware, more than likely, would have found himself on the next decade's team, given that he is only hitting his prime as a pass rusher. To include him on the team reeks of ignorance and bias from the elitist at the AP.
Assuming that this iteration of the All-Decade team follows suit of the ‘90s team, then there are six linebacker positions to be claimed. When compiling those six spots, the orientation of position doesn’t matter. The end objective is just to choose the six best linebackers, regardless of formation or position of the decade.
Surely not even the most biased Dallas Cowboys fan would tell you that DeMarcus Ware was one of the six best linebackers in the NFL. Hell, let’s assume that they choose three inside linebackers and three outside linebackers to make the cut. Surely Ware still doesn’t make the cut, right?
Sure, DeMarcus Ware’s 354 career tackles, 30.5 stuffs, 64.5 sacks, and 23 forced fumbles are impressive, but where’s the beef? The only aspect that stands out are his sack and stuff totals. I guess that one could argue he has an impressive tackle total given he plays in the 3-4 alignment.
However, I have to ask, how do Ware’s numbers compare to somebody who actually played the 3-4 outside linebacker position all decade in Joey Porter? Porter’s numbers are superior across the board with 30 more sacks, 11.5 more stuffs, one more forced fumble, eight more recoveries, 31 more passes defensed, and 11 more interceptions.
Not to mention Porter was a focal point on the Steelers 2005 postseason run. Thus, we have eliminated one of the three outside linebacker spots.
In this statistics-favoring society the sack seems to be over glorified and as a result people overlook the deficiencies of 3-4 outside linebackers as long as they rack up the sacks. Case in point when arguing this? DeMarcus Ware and Elvis Dumervil are the 2009 First-Team All-Pros despite rarely playing coverage and not playing the run that greatly. Just another gaffe by the writers. Forgotten in the sack hype are the 4-3 outside linebackers that are way more versatile.
There are at least four candidates that immediately spring to mind as superior to Ware over the course of the entire decade that played in the 4-3 defense.
Candidate No. 1 is Derrick Brooks of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Brooks amassed 1,035 tackles, 61 passes defensed, nine sacks, 39 stuffs, 16 forced fumbles, 17 interceptions, and scored six touchdowns. He also led one of the best defenses of all time in the 2002 Buccaneers on his way to a Defensive Player of The Year Award and a Super Bowl title.
Candidate No. 2 is Keith Bulluck who was a force bringing in 1,057 tackles, 68 passes defensed, 18 sacks, 48.5 stuffs, 15 forced fumbles, 19 interceptions, and a touchdown this decade. When the Titans began to have turnover around the 2005 season, Bulluck was pretty much the lone holdout and played the entire decade with the team. He was the unquestioned leader for 10 years.
The third candidate is Julian Peterson, who was often injured, but when he played he was a difference maker. He amassed 719 tackles, 56 passes defensed, 50.5 sacks, 34.5 stuffs, 21 forced fumbles, and eight interceptions during the decade with the 49ers, Seahawks, and Lions. He was one of the best coverage linebackers in the league for quite some time.
Finally, there is Lance Briggs, who brought in 775 tackles, 53 passes defensed, 8.5 sacks, 50 stuffs, 10 forced fumbles, 10 interceptions, and three touchdowns in only seven seasons. Briggs was an integral part of the Bears' defense and was the team’s best defender in the Super Bowl.
He was widely regarded by metrics sites as the league’s best coverage linebacker from 2004 to 2006. Briggs’ presence helped make the shoo-in for the team in Urlacher look as good as he did.
So how can anyone tell me that DeMarcus Ware logically deserves a spot on this team over those five guys who immediately came to mind? In addition to them are 3-4 guys like Adalius Thomas, Terrell Suggs, or Mike Vrabel, who were all well rounded and have better numbers over this decade.
The inclusion of DeMarcus Ware on the All-Decade team is just another mistake in a long line of them since the writers commandeered an overwhelming majority in the say of Hall of Fame selection, All-Pro selection, and word of mouth.
Clearly the decision process was obviously rushed as the decision as to who makes the team was done and will be finalized before the final game of the decade—Super Bowl XLIV—is even played.
I think that it is time to get rid of the “experts” and let the guys who actually played the sport make selections.