As we recently did with Wes Welker (parts one and two of the interview if you haven’t seen it), and with Clay Matthews (podcast soon), it was our pleasure to talk with Dallas Cowboys linebacker/end/pass-rushing terror DeMarcus Ware about his role in the “Great American Try-On” campaign for Depend undergarments and the V Foundation.
It’s easy to make fun (well, maybe not so easy if you’re standing next to Mr. Ware), but it’s an interesting campsign for an important cause. Per the press release, “The Great American Try-On” raises awareness and offers confidence to the many Americans living with bladder control issues and prostate cancer. All three players have tried on a pair of the new Depend Real Fit briefs under their uniforms to show that you can be as active as you want to be while wearing them. Their participation in The Great American Try-On supports The V Foundation for Cancer Research’s mission to find a cure for cancers — specifically prostate cancer, a leading cause of bladder control issues in men. They’re also encouraging others to participate by visiting TheGreatAmericanTryOn.com, and we would encourage you to do the same.
After getting DeMarcus’ take on the “Great American Try-On,” it was time to talk about fatherhood, the Cowboys’ 2012 prospects, Pilates vs. MMA for workouts, and which edge rushers he likes in this year’s draft class.
Shutdown Corner: Let’s start by talking about the Great American Try-On, which is an unconventional athlete endorsement, to say the least. What were your first thoughts about this?
DeMarcus Ware: When you think about it, it’s like the big cliché of … when you think about Depend, you just think about putting a diaper on. People need to get past that cliché, and when you bring in me, Wes, and Clay to show that it’s really not about the image people think. It’s okay to try these Depend Real-Fit briefs on. At first, when I put them on, I was like, ‘You know what? These are actually pretty comfortable — they feel better than the briefs I have on.’ So, it’s a great cause, and a big [campaign] for men. One out of every six guys has prostate cancer, so we’re really trying to raise awareness.
SC: What has been the reaction so far?
DW: You know what? People come up to me and say, ‘I’m really glad that you did this, and you’re not really thinking about what people think about it, and you’re really raising awareness for this cause.’ It’s a great thing, and Depend is donating to the V Foundation — promoting the research and trying to get these issues controlled. They donated $150,000, just because we’re part of the Great American Try-On.
SC: The spot is interesting, because so often, athletes project this aura of invincibility, and I suspect that people actually react better when the big names take down their guard.
DW: Yeah, and that’s the thing … sometimes, when people see you on TV, they see you playing football, and they see you having things a lot of people don’t have … usually, your lives are just the same, and sometimes, you have even more problems. People just see the glamour part of it, but putting yourself on the same level as everybody else … I think that really means a lot to a lot of the people out there.
SC: Moving to the subject of family — you have a remarkable adoption story with your daughter after a lot of heartache. How has fatherhood changed your life?
DW: With the trials we’ve been through, and having the opportunity to adopt our little daughter, Marley — she’s our big blessing, and she’s four years old now. She’s really taken over the house [laughs]. We were finally able to have a son, DeMarcus, Jr., and it’s been great. Fatherhood is always about responsibility — you’re just trying to teach them the great morals of life, and that’s just putting Christ first, and being a good person.
SC: It’s amazing how you can mess people up on the football field, and then you go home, and your life is dictated by a four-year-old.
DW: Yeah, right! And I think that’s really the true value — you get out there, and you work hard, but at the end of the day, does that really matter? I mean, what’s important? The most important thing is your kids — taking care of the and leaving that legacy. If you have a bad day at work, you get home and you hear, ‘Daddy.’ They’re smiling that innocent smile, and everything else goes to the wayside.
SC: You’ve been a dominant player since you were taken 11th overall in the 2005 draft. But people have expected a Super Bowl from the Cowboys throughout that whole time, and there is some disappointment heard in a lot of quarters when talking about the franchise. Where does the Dallas Cowboys organization stand right now? How ready is your team to take that big push forward?
DW: I think this team … this is my eighth year with them, and this is the most complete team we’ve had. We’ve got the great coaching staff from last year, carrying over to this year. We have the total offseason, there’s not a lockout, and that team camaraderie we had last year, we have even more this year. That’s what we were really missing last year. When you look at the great teams, at the end of the day, everybody has a lot of great players on their teams. But it’s about how you play together in pressure situations. I think we can really build that team camaraderie this offseason, and that will get us ready for the season.
SC: Moving from Wade Phillips to Rob Ryan as your defensive coordinator … what are the differences there? Based on tape, it seems that Ryan is a little more creative — he’ll run every possible front and try to mess with the heads of the opponents.
DW: Both of them are great coaches, and they know exactly what they’re doing in their defenses. [Phillips] runs more of a conventional attack defense; a zone pressure defense. [Ryan] is more of a disguised coverage, but still pressure-type of defense. You’re getting your bang for the buck with both defenses, but it’s how you want to play. People say that the coaches make the defense, but the players make the defense. Each one of those defenses … Houston was really good last year, and we were really good last year. There’s just always room for improvement.
SC: I remember writing my scouting report on Troy defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi, and mentioning that you put Troy on the map to a certain degree when it came to scouting draft prospects. When you look back to your draft day, and the teams you talked to, did you expect to go to the Cowboys, or were there other teams really in the hunt for you?
DW: You know, the Cowboys were really penciled out, because I had a visit scheduled to go there … I went to Kansas City, Carolina, and San Diego … and the last visit was supposed to be with the Cowboys, but they cancelled. They had Shawne Merriman in the week before, and it was like, ‘Well, I think we have our guy.’ I hadn’t even gone on the visit yet, so I just penciled them out. But on draft day, all of a sudden, they give me a call, and bam — there it was. So, I guess Bill Parcells knew exactly what he was doing.
SC: You’ve been a consistently dominant pass rusher through your NFL career, which is pretty rare — often, you’ll see speed rushers pop up for a few years and go right back down. What has been your secret when it comes to that remarkable consistency?
DW: When you think about it, it’s all about change. Every single one of my off-seasons have been different than the first one. I would learn a lot about the seasons … if I’m doing yoga or Pilates, the next year, I’m doing mixed martial arts. Hot yoga, or some kind of boxing class. Then, I’m going to go try and swim. There are different things you try, but it’s also about the core things you put in your toolbox before the season. Making sure that you have everything critiqued and everything right, before the season. That’s what I really harp on — you get your toolbox right, and once training camp hits, you practice it and get your mental preparedness down.
SC: It’s a pretty big draft for edge rushers in general. Do you still follow the draft and look at the prospects? Are there player in this draft class that have stood out to you?
DW: I actually look at a lot of the guys, and some of their techniques. I’m a big critic on stance, and explosion, and how they bend the corner. There are a lot of good edge-rushers out there, and they’re going to be really good in the league this year.
SC: Well, I haven’t seen anyone in this class with your ‘dip-and-rip,’ so you’re pretty safe there. But who do you like this year? Who stands out to you?
DW: I like Andre Branch from Clemson, number 40. Melvin Ingram from South Carolina. These guys — as pass rushers, they’re not little. They’re big guys, but they’re really quick, so there are some bigger rushers coming out this year.
SC: There are a lot more hybrid defenses now — you’ve obviously seen a change in the NFL, since your team is multiple with its fronts. How have you seen that change since you came into the NFL?
DW: Before, you were either going to run a 3-4, or a 4-3. But now, they have it to where it’s so unconventional — you can have two guys down, and you’re dropping eight [into coverage]. Or, you have four guys down, and you’re bringing a fifth guy. Now, the offenses have to think about who’s coming, who do I need to pick up, and the offensive mentality has changed to the defensive mentality. They want to disguise you just like to disguise them, and you have to figure them out.