Rewind to the 2005 NFL Draft, and the Dallas Cowboys are on the clock with the 11th overall pick. They only had 33 sacks in 2004, the seventh-fewest in the league, so they were looking to boost their pass rush. Their front office was split between two prospects: Maryland's Shawne Merriman and Troy's DeMarcus Ware. Then-head coach Bill Parcells, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, was on Team Merriman, while owner Jerry Jones, another Pro Football Hall of Famer, was on Team Ware.
Jones had final say, and the Silver and Blue went with Ware. But in doing so, the two agreed on a bet -- one in which Ware made Jones all of one dollar as he produced a Hall of Fame career. Jones honored that career on Sunday by inducting Jones into the Cowboys Ring of Honor at halftime of their Week 8 contest against the Los Angeles Rams, a game Dallas leads 33-9.
"[Jones] and then-Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells had a bet for one dollar saying I had to average eight sacks for three years, or I would be a bust," DeMarcus Ware said during the Hall of Fame Game between the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets on NBC. "That's because Bill Parcells wanted Shawne Merriman. When I averaged about 11 or 12 sacks for 12 years, Jerry Jones won that bet. It's so cool because I have that dollar that he gave to me to signify that I won that bet. That's why he's announcing for me, presenting me into this Hall."
That undying faith Jones displayed in Ware is why the Dallas owner presented Ware for his Hall of Fame enshrinement as well as his Ring of Honor induction on Sunday. He more than earned his induction on the field with the following accolades:
- Four-time first-team All-Pro
- Nine-time Pro Bowl selection
- Ninth-most sacks in NFL history (138.5) in just 12 seasons played
- Third-most sacks through first 12 NFL seasons (trailing only Reggie White and Bruce Smith)
- One of 6 players with 10+ sacks in seven straight seasons
- One of 7 players to lead the NFL in sacks multiple times
- NFL 2000's All-Decade Team
- Super Bowl 50 Champion with Broncos
- Cowboys all-time sacks leader (117.0)
That resume provides Ware and Jones with all-time bragging rights over Merriman, who went one pick later (12th overall to the Chargers) and Parcells. Ware also has bragging rights of his own as his legacy will live on forever at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio and at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
DeMarcus Ware vs. Shawne Merriman careers
All-Decade Team selections
First-team All-Pro selections
Pro Bowl selections
Seasons to lead the NFL in sacks
2 (2008 & 2010)
1 (won Super Bowl 50 with Broncos in 2015)