Ware: 'If they tell me not to play, I won't'

Updated: December 16, 2009, 1:16 AM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowl linebacker DeMarcus Ware was scared.

The fact that doctors and trainers took off his face mask, strapped him to a gurney and then drove 30 minutes to Dallas Presbyterian Hospital had Ware feeling uneasy.

Ware had slammed his head into the hip of San Diego Chargers right tackle Brandyn Dombrowski and suffered a severe neck strain Sunday.

Two days later, Ware said his neck is still sore but he hopes to play Saturday night at New Orleans.

"To be honest, I feel 100 percent better," Ware said before Cowboys practice Tuesday. "... I'm getting a lot of strength in my neck back, so I'm happy right now."

Sunday he wasn't.

He didn't know what was happening as a team of trainers and doctors told him to stay flat on his back. The Cowboys' medical staff was trying to figure out how Ware injured his neck so they could properly treat him.

Ware's wife, Taniqua, raced onto the field with several family members. Ware told teammates Bradie James and Terence Newman he was fine. Ware moved both legs and arms to indicate he felt good.

The team's trainers told Ware he was going to the hospital and they needed to place him on a stretcher. Ware said he wanted to be carried off the field, but was told otherwise.

Britt Brown, the Cowboys' associate athletic trainer, rode on the cart with Ware to the ambulance. Taniqua Ware sat in the front seat of the ambulance as her husband lay in the back.

Doctors told the Wares on Sunday night that DeMarcus could miss as many as two weeks. X-rays and an MRI revealed tissue damage and swelling but no structural damage in his neck.

Ware called team owner Jerry Jones that night and told him he felt OK.

On Monday morning, Ware's prognosis improved. Coach Wade Phillips said Ware is now day-to-day. There are more tests to be done Wednesday. An X-ray and another MRI are a possibility. If Ware clears these tests, he could play Sunday.

"If they tell me not to play, I won't," Ware said. "The doctors know more than I do. Sometimes you can feel good but maybe just that next impact, it can make it even worse than what it is and these guys have been doing it 44 years."

He lifted weights Tuesday and is building his strength back. It's unknown whether Ware will play in New Orleans.

"It's really important," he said about listening to doctors. "Since not only are you talking about the team standpoint of being able to go out there and make plays and try to win a game this week, but also you got to think about the player's health. He can go out there and he might get paralyzed, hurt himself even more. Which one is more important: longevity or right now?"

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