Phillips was the Cowboys' head coach from 2007 through 2010, as Ware averaged 15 sacks -- twice as the league leader -- while playing at an All Pro level. When Ware signed with Denver to close out his career, Phillips followed suit as the coordinator dialing up blitzes for the Super Bowl 50 champions.
Phillips ended up coaching Ware for half of his 12 NFL seasons.
"Sometimes it's a sad day when a player retires," Phillips said Monday on Up to the Minute Live, "but it's really kind of a happy day when you get to reflect on all the wonderful times you had together with him and all the great accomplishments that DeMarcus had in his career."
Asked what separated Ware from other premier pass rushers, Phillips cited his "tremendous" talent level.
"He had Hall of Fame ability, but he utilized it," Phillips relayed. "The year he had 20.5 sacks, we still kid him about it ... I think he missed the quarterback like five times. He almost set the record that year, he had a tremendous year. Every year he's played, he's been a difference-maker."
When the two reunited with the Broncos, Ware captained the defense to the extent that Peyton Manning led the offense.
"Of course I was lucky enough to have him twice," Phillips explained. "I know what he's all about -- his leadership and everybody talks about Peyton Manning, which is certainly true of being a great leader, but DeMarcus was a great leader on defense.
"I think if it wouldn't have been for Von (Miller), he probably would have been the MVP of the Super Bowl. Plus, he's a tremendous person. When I say leader, I'm talking about an example of doing all the right things the right way. In practice, in meetings, just all the time. You can't put a value on that, but it was a certainly a difference in our team."
Phillips went on to note that Ware is "going to be in Hall of Fame, for sure." The venerable defensive guru has to be looking forward to cheering on one of his favorite players when Ware's bust is unveiled in Canton after the requisite five-year waiting period.