Troy seals DeMarcus Ware’s legacy by retiring his jersey

Published 10:31 am Tuesday, September 5, 2023

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At a ceremony during halftime of Troy’s season opener, the jersey No. 94 of DeMarcus Ware was officially retired, making him the first player to have his number retired in the school’s history.

Ware, already a Troy Athletics Hall of Famer and Alabama Sports Hall of Famer, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this summer. As a result, Troy hosted DeMarcus Ware Day for the season opener.

“It’s awesome because when you think about when I came to Troy State, it was a Division I-AA and then it went to (FBS) and then it became a winning program,” Ware said. “Seeing all of that and being a part of that and at the top of all that means so much. It shows that all that hard work – all of that blood, sweat and tears – that you put in means so much.”

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Ware visited with the team before the game and for much of the game was on the sidelines cheering for his alma mater, as well.

“DeMarcus’ humility and how kind he is to everyone is so cool to see,” Troy Coach Jon Sumrall said. “He was an elite player but he’s so down to Earth and we had the privilege during his enshrinement to sit here as a team and watch his induction, which was a tremendous opportunity for our guys as a reminder to them that you can go anywhere from right here.

“We were fortunate enough to have DeMarcus take the time to come over to the hotel and address the guys before our pregame meal and sit and eat with the guys. He also did the Trojan Walk with us. I have a ton of respect for him and am just so grateful to have him as a role model for everyone in our building for what it looks like to be a great Man of Troy.”

Ware called Troy a “stepping stone” to the success he would find in the NFL.

“It was my stepping stone to get met where I needed to be,” he emphasized. “I think it was a place where I got nourished, from small classes where you can be focused and have good grades to the coaches who took care of us like we were their children. We needed that.

“I needed all the nourishment to become the person I am now. A lot of kids will say they need money to get to feel like you’re equal, but that’s not it. It’s about the environment and what Troy has to bring and that’s all the resources you need to make you great.”

Ware also talked about all of the upgrades and changes at Troy since he played.

“I’ll put it like this, if I was at Alumni Hall and had my cereal out the roaches would take over,” Ware said with a laugh. “Now, I see a huge like statued type building where the kids are enjoying (Alumni Hall) and it’s great. I see all these new buildings and structures and the jumbo tron at the stadium.

“When I played here there was a mud hill where there’s stadium seats all the way around now. All of these changes from when Osi was here and Vernon Marable and Shelton Felton and me, we were a part of those changes. I look outside and I’m like, ‘They have cool jerseys now.’ To be able to have the vibe of what football is all about at Troy is amazing.”

Troy’s current players look to Ware as a role model of what they strive to be in their careers.

“I was just thinking it as surreal to me because he comes back and he acts like a normal guy even though he has a gold jacket and everything,” cornerback Reddy Steward said. “He was coaching us up on the sideline, the whole defense, it’s big that he supports us the way he does and I appreciate that and as a defensive player I look up to him.”

Ware’s success at Troy and the NFL can be an inspiration for future Trojans.

“It’s a huge inspiration,” cornerback O’shai Fletcher said. “The bar is set so high with him and everyone that comes to Troy now has that to look towards. Every day you have something to shoot for and something to reach for. As a player, I see where he’s been and all I can do is try to match the attitude and effort he played with.”

Ware said that he’s always wanted to be a trailblazer and becoming the first Trojan to have his number retired – and becoming the first Trojan to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame – certainly makes him one.

“In life I always think about being a trailblazer and I am a trailblazer here being the first player to get their jersey retired and hopefully the first of many,” Ware said. “It just lets people know you can do it and that’s one of the coolest things to be a part of. There are so many people that can followed behind you and do great things.”