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DeMarcus Ware pondered retirement after neck injury

DeMarcus Ware has been nearly invincible during his celebrated career with the Dallas Cowboys, but he can't forget the moment it all nearly ended.

During a 2009 game against the San Diego Chargers, Ware's helmet collided against the hip of an offensive lineman. Ware crumpled to the ground, unable to move his arms or legs. When he was on the stretcher -- his facemask carefully separated from his helmet -- the reality of the situation set in.

"I was so scared. I started thinking about my family. I thought, 'I might have to give football up,' " Ware said in the latest issue of GQ. "I really thought I might have to retire, because I just couldn't imagine going through something so traumatic again."

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Ware never missed a game. He came back the next week and was provided a reminder of how cutthroat the NFL can be, courtesy of a suspicious New Orleans Saints playcall.

"I went out there on the first third down of the game, and they ran the ball and hit me," he said. "Now, the Saints don't ever run the ball on third down. They did that to get me. And you know what? That ticked me off."

(Saints haters and conspiracy theorists, feel free to file this quote away for use on your favorite message boards.)

"I was like, 'Oh, you guys want to try to hurt me again, don't you?' So then I told (then-Cowboys coach Wade Phillips) to put me in on first downs. And then, second downs, too. And each play, I got more and more confidence about it."

Ware missed a team workout in June because of a strained neck, and he acknowledged that he continues to suffer from neck stingers as a result of his initial injury three years ago. Ware's a beast, but he's still human.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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