IS THIS THE MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER IN FOOTBALL?

The visitors’ dressing room in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was a gloomy tomb in the late afternoon of October 14, 1973. Peeling off their sweaty jerseys, the disgruntled Dallas Cowboys muttered to themselves in the aftermath of their 37-31 loss to the Rams. Outside in the Coliseum, 81,000 delighted fans were streaming to their cars, chattering enthusiastically. On everyone’s lips were the words “’Harold Jackson.” Across the country, millions in the national television audience were changing their channels, but not without a few last words about “Harold Jackson.”

Down in the visitors’ dressing room, the gloom was the thickest The visitors’ dressing room in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was a gloomy tomb in the late afternoon of October 14, 1973. Peeling off their sweaty jerseys, the disgruntled Dallas Cowboys muttered to themselves in the aftermath of their 37-31 loss to the Rams. Outside in the Coliseum, 81,000 delighted fans were streaming to their cars, chattering enthusiastically. On everyone’s lips were the words “’Harold Jackson.” Across the country, millions in the national television audience were changing their channels, but not without a few last words about “Harold Jackson.”

Down in the visitors’ dressing room, the gloom was the thickest in the corner where Charlie Waters and Cliff Harris sat staring at the floor. The burden was enormous. Waters and Harris had just watched Ram receiver Harold Jackson glide past them for four long touchdown bombs. Four of them. For Charlie Waters, it was the worst moment in an already painful season. It was the worst game of his already checkered career. It was the worst day of his life.

“What happened, Cliff?” said Charlie.

“I don’t know, Charlie,” said Cliff.

“I’m freaked,” said Charlie.

They knew it was only a matter of minutes before the reporters stormed the dressing room and there was no doubt about who their target would be. Waters and Harris decided they would say nothing until in the corner where Charlie Waters and Cliff Harris sat staring at the floor. The burden was enormous. Waters and Harris had just watched Ram receiver Harold Jackson glide past them for four long touchdown bombs. Four of them. For Charlie Waters, it was the worst moment in an already painful season. It was the worst game of his already checkered career. It was the worst day of his life.

“What happened, Cliff?” said Charlie.

“I don’t know, Charlie,” said Cliff.

“I’m freaked,” said Charlie.

They knew it was only a matter of minutes before the reporters stormed the dressing room and there was no doubt about who their target would be. Waters and Harris decided they would say nothing until they’d had a chance to talk with Coach Landry. The doors opened and the press tide rolled into their corner. “What the hell happened to you guys?” a reporter shouted. Cliff. started to retort when Charlie’s eyes cut him short. They politely declined interviews for the time being, and the reporters finally trudged off to other parts of the_ locker room. Waters and Harris closed the partition to their two-man dressing booth, a distinguishing feature of the Coliseum locker room, and began to discuss the afternoon’s nightmare. Suddenly Charlie noticed a pair of shoes under their door. He flung it open and stood face to face with a blushing New York reporter, pad in hand, pencil frozen in mid-scribble. Charlie grabbed him tightly by the throat, gritted his teeth, and hissed, “Didn’t you hear, man? Don’t you understand? Leave us alone.”

The startled reporter got the message and hustled away. Charlie slammed the door and slumped back to the bench. Now he felt even worse.

Two and a half months later, the Cowthey’d had a chance to talk with Coach Landry. The doors opened and the press tide rolled into their corner. “What the hell happened to you guys?” a reporter shouted. Cliff. started to retort when Charlie’s eyes cut him short. They politely declined interviews for the time being, and the reporters finally trudged off to other parts of the_ locker room. Waters and Harris closed the partition to their two-man dressing booth, a distinguishing feature of the Coliseum locker room, and began to discuss the afternoon’s nightmare. Suddenly Charlie noticed a pair of shoes under their door. He flung it open and stood face to face with a blushing New York reporter, pad in hand, pencil frozen in mid-scribble. Charlie grabbed him tightly by the throat, gritted his teeth, and hissed, “Didn’t you hear, man? Don’t you understand? Leave us alone.”

The startled reporter got the message and hustled away. Charlie slammed the door and slumped back to the bench. Now he felt even worse.

Two and a half months later, the Cowboy dressing room in Texas Stadium was jubilant. The Cowboys had just knocked off those same Los Angeles Rams 27-16 in the Divisional Playoff for the NFC Championship. Amidst the gleeful shouting not a word was heard about “Harold Jackson.” Harold Jackson hadn’t caught a single pass that day. But nobody came over to Charlie Waters’ locker to ask him about that.

Yeah, it’s amazing,” says Charlie Waters, leaning back in his patio chair. “Even now I can be off in the backwoods somewhere and when somebody recognizes who I am they’ll say, ’Oh yeah. Charlie Waters. Yeah, I remember that Harold Jackson game.” ” Charlie smiles his boyish smile. “Yeah, 1 guess I’ve had a pretty weird career. It’s never far from chicken salad to chicken shit.”

They were mostly chicken salad days for Charlie Waters growing up in North Augusta, South Carolina. A natural athlete if there ever was one, his penchant for football destined him for Deep-South-small-town stardom. He seemed to know it as well as anyone: when he enrolled in boy dressing room in Texas Stadium was jubilant. The Cowboys had just knocked off those same Los Angeles Rams 27-16 in the Divisional Playoff for the NFC Championship. Amidst the gleeful shouting not a word was heard about “Harold Jackson.” Harold Jackson hadn’t caught a single pass that day. But nobody came over to Charlie Waters’ locker to ask him about that.

Yeah, it’s amazing,” says Charlie Waters, leaning back in his patio chair. “Even now I can be off in the backwoods somewhere and when somebody recognizes who I am they’ll say, ’Oh yeah. Charlie Waters. Yeah, I remember that Harold Jackson game.” ” Charlie smiles his boyish smile. “Yeah, 1 guess I’ve had a pretty weird career. It’s never far from chicken salad to chicken shit.”

They were mostly chicken salad days for Charlie Waters growing up in North Augusta, South Carolina. A natural athlete if there ever was one, his penchant for football destined him for Deep-South-small-town stardom. He seemed to know it as well as anyone: when he enrolled in high school and embarked on his football career, he decided he would be “The Quarterback,” mentally grooming himself for the eyes of Bear Bryant at Alabama. And he was the quarterback, and he was a star. But when the colleges came courting with scholarships, Alabama and Tennessee and the other Southeastern big boys couldn’t promise Charlie that he could be their quarterback. Still firmly hooked on what he calls the “I-wanna-be-a-star-syndrome,” Charlie chose near-by Clemson.

And sure enough, Charles Waters (“I was Charles at Clemson”) was tabbed as the starting Clemson quarterback as a freshman- until, in the first spring game, he broke his ankle. So much for the chicken salad. It was an omen of things to come.

high school and embarked on his football career, he decided he would be “The Quarterback,” mentally grooming himself for the eyes of Bear Bryant at Alabama. And he was the quarterback, and he was a star. But when the colleges came courting with scholarships, Alabama and Tennessee and the other Southeastern big boys couldn’t promise Charlie that he could be their quarterback. Still firmly hooked on what he calls the “I-wanna-be-a-star-syndrome,” Charlie chose near-by Clemson.

And sure enough, Charles Waters (“I was Charles at Clemson”) was tabbed as the starting Clemson quarterback as a freshman- until, in the first spring game, he broke his ankle. So much for the chicken salad. It was an omen of things to come.

Charles worked his way back to starting quarterback as a junior- then broke his big toe. He switched to wide receiver. On his first play in his new position, he caught a 58-yard pass for a touchdown. Something clicked. “This is fun,” he informed himself. “I don’t have to be a quarterback. I don’t have to be a star. This is fun.” By the ninth game of his senior year, Charles was flying high. In just 15 games as a receiver, he had hauled in 68 passes for 1,165 yards, ranking him third in Clemson’s long history. The pro scouts were giving him long, hard looks. Green Bay told him they would draft him as a wide receiver. Then Charles Waters separated his shoulder.

The Dallas Cowboys have become the Dallas Cowboys because they draft more intelligently, diligently and imaginatively than any other team in pro football. Having already dug diamonds out of the football mines of Elizabeth City State, Fort ValCharles worked his way back to starting quarterback as a junior- then broke his big toe. He switched to wide receiver. On his first play in his new position, he caught a 58-yard pass for a touchdown. Something clicked. “This is fun,” he informed himself. “I don’t have to be a quarterback. I don’t have to be a star. This is fun.” By the ninth game of his senior year, Charles was flying high. In just 15 games as a receiver, he had hauled in 68 passes for 1,165 yards, ranking him third in Clemson’s long history. The pro scouts were giving him long, hard looks. Green Bay told him they would draft him as a wide receiver. Then Charles Waters separated his shoulder.

The Dallas Cowboys have become the Dallas Cowboys because they draft more intelligently, diligently and imaginatively than any other team in pro football. Having already dug diamonds out of the football mines of Elizabeth City State, Fort Valley State and Yale, the Cowboys spotted another glimmer in Charles Waters of Clemson. Something was there in former-quarterback-receiver Waters that caught the eye of Cowboy Scouts Gil Brandt and Red Hickey, and convinced them that the kid from Clemson could be a defensive back. The Cowboys took a chance and made Waters a surprisingly high third round draft choice. “The Cowboys do weird things like that,” says Charlie gratefully.

His laurels as a wide receiver had already notched Waters a place in the College All-Star game. But, because the Cowboys had him slated for defensive back, they requested that Charlie play the game at that position. At Soldier Field in Chicago, against the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, Charlie Waters lined up on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage for the first time in his life. “I was terrified,” says Charlie.

But he held his own, wasn’t injured and reported to the Cowboys training camp – weighing in at 200 pounds, seven pounds over his playing weight. He ley State and Yale, the Cowboys spotted another glimmer in Charles Waters of Clemson. Something was there in former-quarterback-receiver Waters that caught the eye of Cowboy Scouts Gil Brandt and Red Hickey, and convinced them that the kid from Clemson could be a defensive back. The Cowboys took a chance and made Waters a surprisingly high third round draft choice. “The Cowboys do weird things like that,” says Charlie gratefully.

His laurels as a wide receiver had already notched Waters a place in the College All-Star game. But, because the Cowboys had him slated for defensive back, they requested that Charlie play the game at that position. At Soldier Field in Chicago, against the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs, Charlie Waters lined up on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage for the first time in his life. “I was terrified,” says Charlie.

But he held his own, wasn’t injured and reported to the Cowboys training camp – weighing in at 200 pounds, seven pounds over his playing weight. He ran the 40 in a fat 4.8 (compared to his 4.6 in college), certainly slower than desirable for a defensive back. He had trouble adjusting to his new position. Then the phone rang in his motel room one morning, waking him up. It was the team secretary, telling him to meet Mr. Landry in his office at 9 o’clock – and to bring his play-book. Every rookie knew what that meant. Charlie called his new friend and fellow rookie Cliff Harris on the phone. “I’ve been cut, Cliff,” said Charlie, in shock. Harris started laughing, told him to cut the stupid jokes and hung up on him. Charlie stumbled into the shower, stood there in a steamy, wet daze, and thought about what he would do when he got back to South Carolina. The phone rang again. It was one of the coaches. “Uh, Charlie, there’s been a little mistake.” It seems someone had forgotten to take into account Charlie’s late arrival status as a college All-Star member, meaning that ran the 40 in a fat 4.8 (compared to his 4.6 in college), certainly slower than desirable for a defensive back. He had trouble adjusting to his new position. Then the phone rang in his motel room one morning, waking him up. It was the team secretary, telling him to meet Mr. Landry in his office at 9 o’clock – and to bring his play-book. Every rookie knew what that meant. Charlie called his new friend and fellow rookie Cliff Harris on the phone. “I’ve been cut, Cliff,” said Charlie, in shock. Harris started laughing, told him to cut the stupid jokes and hung up on him. Charlie stumbled into the shower, stood there in a steamy, wet daze, and thought about what he would do when he got back to South Carolina. The phone rang again. It was one of the coaches. “Uh, Charlie, there’s been a little mistake.” It seems someone had forgotten to take into account Charlie’s late arrival status as a college All-Star member, meaning that he had another two weeks before he counted against the maximum roster limit – two more weeks to prove himself. Another bite of salad. Charlie’s play improved markedly in the next few days.

Over the course of the next five seasons, Charlie Waters may have wished that second phone call had never come, that he had taken his ball and gone home to South Carolina. His football career became a roller coaster that had more than one low for every high.

1970: Waters opens his rookie season on the bench behind All-Pro strong safety Cornell Green. Cliff Harris, meanwhile, stars at free safety, until getting a call from Uncle Sam and marching off to boot camp. Waters gets his chance and starts at free safety against the Eagles in front of 55,000 Dallas fans. On the Eagles’ third play of the game, Waters grabs an interception. The crowd loves it. Waters loves it. By the end of the season, he leads the team in interceptions, and Charlie and the Cowboys ride into their first Super Bowl against the Colts in Miami. It’s anyhe had another two weeks before he counted against the maximum roster limit – two more weeks to prove himself. Another bite of salad. Charlie’s play improved markedly in the next few days.

Over the course of the next five seasons, Charlie Waters may have wished that second phone call had never come, that he had taken his ball and gone home to South Carolina. His football career became a roller coaster that had more than one low for every high.

1970: Waters opens his rookie season on the bench behind All-Pro strong safety Cornell Green. Cliff Harris, meanwhile, stars at free safety, until getting a call from Uncle Sam and marching off to boot camp. Waters gets his chance and starts at free safety against the Eagles in front of 55,000 Dallas fans. On the Eagles’ third play of the game, Waters grabs an interception. The crowd loves it. Waters loves it. By the end of the season, he leads the team in interceptions, and Charlie and the Cowboys ride into their first Super Bowl against the Colts in Miami. It’s anybody’s game until Johnny Unitas fires long for Eddie Hinton, who tips the ball. The Cowboys’ Mel Renfro also tips it. Charlie Waters appears to overrun the ball and it settles into the arms of the Colts’ John Mackey for a 75-yard touch-down and a Baltimore victory.

1971: Waters starts at free safety but is benched after the fourth game, in favor of Harris. (“Cliff was better, that’s all,” says Charlie. “But I took it hard. The bench is a lot softer if you’ve never started. I hate the bench. Hate it.”) The Cow-boys romp to their finest season ever and polish off Miami in the Super Bowl. With the exception of specialty teams, Charlie Waters does not play one down in that game. His father suffers a near-fatal heart attack in the stands.

1972: Waters is still riding the bench and hating it. But in the seventh game, Landry starts Waters at comerback in place of the aging but still idolized Herb Adderly. Waters is anxious to impress in his corner back debut against San Diego. body’s game until Johnny Unitas fires long for Eddie Hinton, who tips the ball. The Cowboys’ Mel Renfro also tips it. Charlie Waters appears to overrun the ball and it settles into the arms of the Colts’ John Mackey for a 75-yard touch-down and a Baltimore victory.

1971: Waters starts at free safety but is benched after the fourth game, in favor of Harris. (“Cliff was better, that’s all,” says Charlie. “But I took it hard. The bench is a lot softer if you’ve never started. I hate the bench. Hate it.”) The Cow-boys romp to their finest season ever and polish off Miami in the Super Bowl. With the exception of specialty teams, Charlie Waters does not play one down in that game. His father suffers a near-fatal heart attack in the stands.

1972: Waters is still riding the bench and hating it. But in the seventh game, Landry starts Waters at comerback in place of the aging but still idolized Herb Adderly. Waters is anxious to impress in his corner back debut against San Diego. The Chargers’ Chuck Dicus promptly burns him for two TD’s. “What about Waters?” they ask at the press conference the next day. “I’m going to give him another chance,” says Tom Landry. “If you learn by mistakes,” says Charlie Waters, “I oughta be a genius.” The next Sunday, against St. Louis, Waters has two big interceptions, returns one for a touchdown. Charlie and the Cowboys roll into the NFC championship game against the Redskins. Waters gets beaten on a 51-yard bomb from Billy Kilmer to Charley Taylor. Moments later, Kilmer hits Taylor behind Waters for the game’s first touchdown. The Cowboys never catch up. Late in the game. Waters fields a punt, turns upfield and is hit hard. His left arm is broken.

1973: The repair of Waters’ arm during the off-season goes about as smoothly as his football career. After the first setting, The Chargers’ Chuck Dicus promptly burns him for two TD’s. “What about Waters?” they ask at the press conference the next day. “I’m going to give him another chance,” says Tom Landry. “If you learn by mistakes,” says Charlie Waters, “I oughta be a genius.” The next Sunday, against St. Louis, Waters has two big interceptions, returns one for a touchdown. Charlie and the Cowboys roll into the NFC championship game against the Redskins. Waters gets beaten on a 51-yard bomb from Billy Kilmer to Charley Taylor. Moments later, Kilmer hits Taylor behind Waters for the game’s first touchdown. The Cowboys never catch up. Late in the game. Waters fields a punt, turns upfield and is hit hard. His left arm is broken.

1973: The repair of Waters’ arm during the off-season goes about as smoothly as his football career. After the first setting, the sling slips and the bone breaks again in the cast. It is reset, but three months later the doctors inform Charlie that there is “non-fusion.” With only four weeks until training camp, the doctors give him two options. One is a bone graft which will put him out for the season. The other is to drive a steel rod down through the top of his shoulder and into his arm to hold the bone in place. If it works, he can probably play. Memories of the Washington game burn in his mind. He wants redemption, so he takes the pin. His weight down to 170, he works up to 185. the sling slips and the bone breaks again in the cast. It is reset, but three months later the doctors inform Charlie that there is “non-fusion.” With only four weeks until training camp, the doctors give him two options. One is a bone graft which will put him out for the season. The other is to drive a steel rod down through the top of his shoulder and into his arm to hold the bone in place. If it works, he can probably play. Memories of the Washington game burn in his mind. He wants redemption, so he takes the pin. His weight down to 170, he works up to 185. Some of the feeling is gone in his left hand, but he has retained most of the mobility in his arm. In the first pre-sea-son game against the Rams, Waters has two interceptions and returns one 54 yards for a touchdown. He performs remarkably well at comerback for the next several games. Fans and press alike marvel at what he is able to do with a spike in his shoulder. His performance more than compensates for his pain.

And then came Harold Jackson.

In the wake of the Jackson fiasco, Charlie Waters crawled into a shell. The roller Some of the feeling is gone in his left hand, but he has retained most of the mobility in his arm. In the first pre-sea-son game against the Rams, Waters has two interceptions and returns one 54 yards for a touchdown. He performs remarkably well at comerback for the next several games. Fans and press alike marvel at what he is able to do with a spike in his shoulder. His performance more than compensates for his pain.

And then came Harold Jackson.

In the wake of the Jackson fiasco, Charlie Waters crawled into a shell. The roller coaster had bottomed out one too many times. No more press, no more interviews. The usually affable Charlie went silent. Strangely, his performance on the field the rest of that season was consistently good. At the opening of the following season, 1974, Waters was still the starting left cornerback. His arm had finally healed, but perhaps the mental scars had not. From the outset, things did not go well. A pinched nerve in his knee slowed him and fueled talk that had begun the season before, when Harold Jackcoaster had bottomed out one too many times. No more press, no more interviews. The usually affable Charlie went silent. Strangely, his performance on the field the rest of that season was consistently good. At the opening of the following season, 1974, Waters was still the starting left cornerback. His arm had finally healed, but perhaps the mental scars had not. From the outset, things did not go well. A pinched nerve in his knee slowed him and fueled talk that had begun the season before, when Harold Jackson had run past him: “Charlie Waters just isn’t a cornerback. He doesn’t have enough speed for the position. He might make a free safety, but Harris is better. He could be a strong safety but there’s already Cornell Green. There just isn’t a place for Charlie Waters in that defensive backfield.” Midway through the season, Landry started Mark Washington at left cornerback. Charlie Waters was benched again. He could still taste the chicken salad, and it was rancid.



“Nobody’s gonna want to read that stuff,” says Charlie Waters, leaping up from his patio chair, shaking his head as if to clear it of the painful memories he’s just waded through. “Man, it hurts all over again just to have to think about it. Nobody’s gonna want to read about it. Hey I’m starving. I’ve gotta son had run past him: “Charlie Waters just isn’t a cornerback. He doesn’t have enough speed for the position. He might make a free safety, but Harris is better. He could be a strong safety but there’s already Cornell Green. There just isn’t a place for Charlie Waters in that defensive backfield.” Midway through the season, Landry started Mark Washington at left cornerback. Charlie Waters was benched again. He could still taste the chicken salad, and it was rancid.



“Nobody’s gonna want to read that stuff,” says Charlie Waters, leaping up from his patio chair, shaking his head as if to clear it of the painful memories he’s just waded through. “Man, it hurts all over again just to have to think about it. Nobody’s gonna want to read about it. Hey I’m starving. I’ve gotta have something to eat. You hungry? Good. I’ll cook some burgers.”

In the leafy, pastoral quiet of Charlie Waters’ back yard, the turmoil of his football career, indeed football itself, seems part of another, remote life. This huge, sloping wooded yard is a remarkable urban oasis, a slice of tranquility just outside of the furthest creeping reaches of the Greenville-Skillman swinglesville sprawl.

While he waits for his charcoal to burn white, Charlie sits back and surveys the scene. Ajax, the German shepherd, is down by the wood shed sniffing out a squirrel. Bear, the golden retriever, chases down an old tooth-marked handball and trots back to Charlie with his catch. Cosmo, the cat, curls in a nearby window and looks out languidly. From inside the open kitchen window, Charlie’s lovely wife Rosie calls out an offering of beer. The setting sun casts the yard in soft afterglow. The crickets begin warming up in the corners. It’s just another evening on have something to eat. You hungry? Good. I’ll cook some burgers.”

In the leafy, pastoral quiet of Charlie Waters’ back yard, the turmoil of his football career, indeed football itself, seems part of another, remote life. This huge, sloping wooded yard is a remarkable urban oasis, a slice of tranquility just outside of the furthest creeping reaches of the Greenville-Skillman swinglesville sprawl.

While he waits for his charcoal to burn white, Charlie sits back and surveys the scene. Ajax, the German shepherd, is down by the wood shed sniffing out a squirrel. Bear, the golden retriever, chases down an old tooth-marked handball and trots back to Charlie with his catch. Cosmo, the cat, curls in a nearby window and looks out languidly. From inside the open kitchen window, Charlie’s lovely wife Rosie calls out an offering of beer. The setting sun casts the yard in soft afterglow. The crickets begin warming up in the corners. It’s just another evening on the Animal Farm, as the mailbox on the road out front designates this residence. It’s a scene so utterly domestic, so infectiously peaceful, that pro football seems an impossibly inappropriate topic for discussion. The poetry of Wordsworth would be easy tonight, but the tight end key on the strongside linebacker seems an intrusion.

In T-shirt and jeans, Charlie Waters props his sneakered feet on a chair, puts his hands behind his head, stretches contentedly and smiles. His naturally sleepy-eyed expression gives the sense of an ever-impending nap. “You know,” he says softly, his accent rounded with South Carolinian tones, like a plantation master taking stock of his spread at the end of a day, “If I hadn’t had this place, I would have gone crazy.”

Tonight, though, the Animal Farm is just another good thing in Charlie’s good life. The hard times, it seems, are over. In the summer of 1975, Cornell Green retired. Charlie Waters became the Cowthe Animal Farm, as the mailbox on the road out front designates this residence. It’s a scene so utterly domestic, so infectiously peaceful, that pro football seems an impossibly inappropriate topic for discussion. The poetry of Wordsworth would be easy tonight, but the tight end key on the strongside linebacker seems an intrusion.

In T-shirt and jeans, Charlie Waters props his sneakered feet on a chair, puts his hands behind his head, stretches contentedly and smiles. His naturally sleepy-eyed expression gives the sense of an ever-impending nap. “You know,” he says softly, his accent rounded with South Carolinian tones, like a plantation master taking stock of his spread at the end of a day, “If I hadn’t had this place, I would have gone crazy.”

Tonight, though, the Animal Farm is just another good thing in Charlie’s good life. The hard times, it seems, are over. In the summer of 1975, Cornell Green retired. Charlie Waters became the Cowboys’ starting strong safety, the position he had been destined for all along, but had never had the chance to play. In a recent issue. Sports Illustrated published the results of its poll of NFL players, a poll which queried the players themselves in various categories regarding the game they play. In the category labeled “The Most Underrated, Unsung, And, In All Probability, Underpaid Player in the NFL,” the name at the very top of the list was Charlie Waters.

“I don’t know if that means anything,” says the underrated Charlie Waters, “but I take it as an honor. In a way, for me, it’s kind of the ultimate honor, because of my approach to the game in the last few years. After that Jackson thing, I had to step back. I was confused, and I realized I could not play professional football with distraction. Absorption is the only way I can play and distraction is its biggest enemy. The press had become a major distraction. The Dallas press has always been pretty good to me, but it just seemed that by circumstance, whenever boys’ starting strong safety, the position he had been destined for all along, but had never had the chance to play. In a recent issue. Sports Illustrated published the results of its poll of NFL players, a poll which queried the players themselves in various categories regarding the game they play. In the category labeled “The Most Underrated, Unsung, And, In All Probability, Underpaid Player in the NFL,” the name at the very top of the list was Charlie Waters.

“I don’t know if that means anything,” says the underrated Charlie Waters, “but I take it as an honor. In a way, for me, it’s kind of the ultimate honor, because of my approach to the game in the last few years. After that Jackson thing, I had to step back. I was confused, and I realized I could not play professional football with distraction. Absorption is the only way I can play and distraction is its biggest enemy. The press had become a major distraction. The Dallas press has always been pretty good to me, but it just seemed that by circumstance, whenever I was news, it was bad news. 1 became ’the much-maligned Charlie Waters.” The headlines read ’Troubled Waters’ or “Muddy Waters” or ’Murky Waters.’ Whatever I said or did with the press always came back at me. So I backed off.

“I’ve just seen too many players crack under the weight of media tags. A young player gets a negative tag early, he gets down, and he never bounces back. It’s agonizing to watch. Vice-versa, a player gets an early positive tag, a ’can’t miss,’ or performs well early and gets a lot of attention, and then freaks in the limelight. You turn around and he’s gone. Recognition is distraction.”

The sleepy lids lift over Charlie’s eyes and the look of contemplation shifts to one of slight consternation. “Let me tell you something that happened today at practice. Cliff and I were interviewed by I was news, it was bad news. 1 became ’the much-maligned Charlie Waters.” The headlines read ’Troubled Waters’ or “Muddy Waters” or ’Murky Waters.’ Whatever I said or did with the press always came back at me. So I backed off.

“I’ve just seen too many players crack under the weight of media tags. A young player gets a negative tag early, he gets down, and he never bounces back. It’s agonizing to watch. Vice-versa, a player gets an early positive tag, a ’can’t miss,’ or performs well early and gets a lot of attention, and then freaks in the limelight. You turn around and he’s gone. Recognition is distraction.”

The sleepy lids lift over Charlie’s eyes and the look of contemplation shifts to one of slight consternation. “Let me tell you something that happened today at practice. Cliff and I were interviewed by a guy from Pro! magazine, for a story about us. He asked if we would pose together for a photograph on a bicycle built for two. Tandem safeties on a tandem bicycle, see. Well, Cliff and I looked at each other and had the same thought: Silly. We said we’d think it over and went to check with our public relations people in the Cowboy office. ’Do it,” they said. ’Look, Charlie, when it comes time to vote for All-Pro, every little bit helps.’ Well, that bothers me. I’m fully aware of the entanglements between media and sports, but… All-Pro means a lot in this profession and if that’s the way to get it, well, I’m not sure that’s the way I want it.

“But hell,” he smiles suddenly, “we did the bicycle picture and now here I am talking to you, so who’s gonna believe that? It’s just that athletes have become such celebrities that it’s easy to put yourself in jeopardy. It’s easy to fall into creating an image for the newspaper, for the people out there. Suddenly you’ve bea guy from Pro! magazine, for a story about us. He asked if we would pose together for a photograph on a bicycle built for two. Tandem safeties on a tandem bicycle, see. Well, Cliff and I looked at each other and had the same thought: Silly. We said we’d think it over and went to check with our public relations people in the Cowboy office. ’Do it,” they said. ’Look, Charlie, when it comes time to vote for All-Pro, every little bit helps.’ Well, that bothers me. I’m fully aware of the entanglements between media and sports, but… All-Pro means a lot in this profession and if that’s the way to get it, well, I’m not sure that’s the way I want it.

“But hell,” he smiles suddenly, “we did the bicycle picture and now here I am talking to you, so who’s gonna believe that? It’s just that athletes have become such celebrities that it’s easy to put yourself in jeopardy. It’s easy to fall into creating an image for the newspaper, for the people out there. Suddenly you’ve become a slave to the public and find yourself performing for others, not yourself. When you start depending on the public for your happiness, you’ve got problems.

“When it comes to those post-game interviews, I cooperate but I don’t look forward to it. You find yourself learning to say the safest things, things that won’t come back to cause trouble. You know, ’I think our whole defense played relatively well but you have to give credit to the Cardinals’ offensive line …” I don’t know, maybe I’m overly protective, but man, things are just going so well right now, I don’t want anything to happen. I want to be ’on’ for Sunday, I don’t want to be ’on’ for an interview. I’m more than glad to be the unsung hero, or whatever you want to call it. No ink is fine with me.” He winks and smiles that contagious, mischievous, little-boy smile. “Are you sure you really want to do this?”

If Charlie Waters is the most undercome a slave to the public and find yourself performing for others, not yourself. When you start depending on the public for your happiness, you’ve got problems.

“When it comes to those post-game interviews, I cooperate but I don’t look forward to it. You find yourself learning to say the safest things, things that won’t come back to cause trouble. You know, ’I think our whole defense played relatively well but you have to give credit to the Cardinals’ offensive line …” I don’t know, maybe I’m overly protective, but man, things are just going so well right now, I don’t want anything to happen. I want to be ’on’ for Sunday, I don’t want to be ’on’ for an interview. I’m more than glad to be the unsung hero, or whatever you want to call it. No ink is fine with me.” He winks and smiles that contagious, mischievous, little-boy smile. “Are you sure you really want to do this?”

If Charlie Waters is the most underrated player in pro football, his low profile with the press is part of the reason. But there are others. One is Cliff Harris. Charlie is the first to admit it. “Sure, I play in Cliffs shadow. Which is great. He’s so talented. Free safety is a highly visible position with a lot of freedom of movement. And Cliff plays it more efficiently and spectacularly than anyone in the league. You can’t help but notice him.”

Strong safety, on the other hand, is perhaps the least visible position on a defensive team. The “front four” have achieved a kind of notoriety of their own. The linebackers are constantly involved in the action. And the comerbacks, by reason of man-to-man coverage and the long pass spotlight, are easily noticed. But the role of the strong safety is often preventative. Keep the tight end contained. Keep the running backs from coming out of the backfield and into the pass flow. On running sweeps, the strong rated player in pro football, his low profile with the press is part of the reason. But there are others. One is Cliff Harris. Charlie is the first to admit it. “Sure, I play in Cliffs shadow. Which is great. He’s so talented. Free safety is a highly visible position with a lot of freedom of movement. And Cliff plays it more efficiently and spectacularly than anyone in the league. You can’t help but notice him.”

Strong safety, on the other hand, is perhaps the least visible position on a defensive team. The “front four” have achieved a kind of notoriety of their own. The linebackers are constantly involved in the action. And the comerbacks, by reason of man-to-man coverage and the long pass spotlight, are easily noticed. But the role of the strong safety is often preventative. Keep the tight end contained. Keep the running backs from coming out of the backfield and into the pass flow. On running sweeps, the strong safety’s first priority is to turn the play inside – not to make the tackle. You won’t hear the loudspeaker announce “Waters turns play inside.”

It seems true, too, that the Cowboy system casts its own shadows on stardom. Tom Landry’s machine-like design, particularly with the “flex” defense, generally does not highlight individual achievement. In that way, you might say that all the Cowboys are underrated. Charlie Waters, by position, is one of the more tightly regulated cogs in the wheel. Cogs aren’t stars.

More than anything, though, Charlie’s tumultuous past is responsible for his quiet present. Those bad days and bad plays at other positions have left a bit of a stigma. “Charlie lost his identity at cor-nerback,” says Tom Landry. “Corner-back is certainly not his best position. We envisioned him a strong safety all along. It was just a matter of finding the place and time. Notoriety at a particular position has a kind of momentum of its own. Charlie hasn’t had the benefit of that momentum as a strong safety.”

Until now. In his third year at strong safety, Waters is achieving, at least, the recognition of his peers. Last year he was voted to the Pro Bowl, a selection made by the NFL players themselves. The Sports Illustrated poll reflects the same respect. Tom Landry comfirms it: “You really can never say the best anysafety’s first priority is to turn the play inside – not to make the tackle. You won’t hear the loudspeaker announce “Waters turns play inside.”

It seems true, too, that the Cowboy system casts its own shadows on stardom. Tom Landry’s machine-like design, particularly with the “flex” defense, generally does not highlight individual achievement. In that way, you might say that all the Cowboys are underrated. Charlie Waters, by position, is one of the more tightly regulated cogs in the wheel. Cogs aren’t stars.

More than anything, though, Charlie’s tumultuous past is responsible for his quiet present. Those bad days and bad plays at other positions have left a bit of a stigma. “Charlie lost his identity at cor-nerback,” says Tom Landry. “Corner-back is certainly not his best position. We envisioned him a strong safety all along. It was just a matter of finding the place and time. Notoriety at a particular position has a kind of momentum of its own. Charlie hasn’t had the benefit of that momentum as a strong safety.”

Until now. In his third year at strong safety, Waters is achieving, at least, the recognition of his peers. Last year he was voted to the Pro Bowl, a selection made by the NFL players themselves. The Sports Illustrated poll reflects the same respect. Tom Landry comfirms it: “You really can never say the best anything in pro football, but Charlie now is certainly among the best safeties in the league. I know there isn’t anybody else in the league I’d rather have at strong safety than Charlie Waters.”



Finding the right position has undoubtedly been the key to the turnaround in Charlie’s football fortunes. But there have been some other important changes. Some changes of the mind.

It’s late afternoon at the Animal Farm. Charlie is standing near the corner of the garage, staring intently at what looks like nothing. “Come here,” he beckons excitedly. “Look at this.” A spider web hangs from the corner gutter. In the web, the spider has trapped a moth in its clutches. “Look,” he says in fascination, looking more like a kid than ever, “it’s sucking the moth’s insides out. Amazing.” He watches transfixed, until the noise of a bulldozer, leveling dirt across the street in preparation for yet another massive apartment complex, disrupts his reverie. Charlie frowns. ” I’m gonna have to build a big fence,” he mutters. “Let’s go inside.”

He isn’t feeling well, and heads for the kitchen to get something to settle his stomach. He pours a big glass of tomato juice and Coors. Then he sits at the counter with all the makings of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; painstakingly, he bething in pro football, but Charlie now is certainly among the best safeties in the league. I know there isn’t anybody else in the league I’d rather have at strong safety than Charlie Waters.”



Finding the right position has undoubtedly been the key to the turnaround in Charlie’s football fortunes. But there have been some other important changes. Some changes of the mind.

It’s late afternoon at the Animal Farm. Charlie is standing near the corner of the garage, staring intently at what looks like nothing. “Come here,” he beckons excitedly. “Look at this.” A spider web hangs from the corner gutter. In the web, the spider has trapped a moth in its clutches. “Look,” he says in fascination, looking more like a kid than ever, “it’s sucking the moth’s insides out. Amazing.” He watches transfixed, until the noise of a bulldozer, leveling dirt across the street in preparation for yet another massive apartment complex, disrupts his reverie. Charlie frowns. ” I’m gonna have to build a big fence,” he mutters. “Let’s go inside.”

He isn’t feeling well, and heads for the kitchen to get something to settle his stomach. He pours a big glass of tomato juice and Coors. Then he sits at the counter with all the makings of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; painstakingly, he begins crafting, painting the peanut butter to the bread with smooth, deliberate strokes.

“I used to be called ’flakey’,” he says. “’Yeah, one of the sports writers wrote that once and the Cowboy P. R. people said ’Yeah, that’s good. Be a flake.’ I don’t think I ever really was flakey. But maybe I started believing it.” At any rate, Charlie did a pretty good job of promoting the image in his early days with the Cowboys. His hair poked out of his helmet back when the football hierarchy frowned on such things. He opened his own motorcycle track in Cedar Hill so he could do dirt track racing – until the residents of Cedar Hill filed suit against him for disturbing the peace and forced him to shut down. He once auditioned to become a sportscaster for Channel 4. During the first trial take, Charlie stumbled over a word in the script, said, “Oh bleep,” and suddenly got tickled. He started giggling, then threw the pages of his script fluttering into the air as he rolled off his chair and onto the floor, laughing hysterically, in front of a stunned production crew. Charlie didn’t get the job.

Charlie the Flake did lots of good-time cruising during this period. As he puts it, gins crafting, painting the peanut butter to the bread with smooth, deliberate strokes.

“I used to be called ’flakey’,” he says. “’Yeah, one of the sports writers wrote that once and the Cowboy P. R. people said ’Yeah, that’s good. Be a flake.’ I don’t think I ever really was flakey. But maybe I started believing it.” At any rate, Charlie did a pretty good job of promoting the image in his early days with the Cowboys. His hair poked out of his helmet back when the football hierarchy frowned on such things. He opened his own motorcycle track in Cedar Hill so he could do dirt track racing – until the residents of Cedar Hill filed suit against him for disturbing the peace and forced him to shut down. He once auditioned to become a sportscaster for Channel 4. During the first trial take, Charlie stumbled over a word in the script, said, “Oh bleep,” and suddenly got tickled. He started giggling, then threw the pages of his script fluttering into the air as he rolled off his chair and onto the floor, laughing hysterically, in front of a stunned production crew. Charlie didn’t get the job.

Charlie the Flake did lots of good-time cruising during this period. As he puts it, “1 was definitely a regular on boogie boulevard.” But two things happened to change Charlie’s style. One was Rosie Holotik, now Rosie Waters. “Rosie is a professional,” says Charlie. “Broadway at age 15, lots of professional stage and modeling work. She’s helped me to be professional about my work. She’s stabilized me. A little.” He pauses to admire his peanut butter and jelly creation.

The other contributing influence in the rise of Charlie Waters was the arrival, two years ago, of Bob Ward, conditioning coach for the Cowboys. Bob Ward is a practitioner of jeet kune do, an Oriental martial art with an attendant philosophy. It was the man, more than the methods, that initially attracted Charlie Waters. “Bob Ward,” says Charlie with warm admiration, “is the kind of man you meet for the first time and know that you would like to spend a lot more time with him. You look in his eyes, and what “1 was definitely a regular on boogie boulevard.” But two things happened to change Charlie’s style. One was Rosie Holotik, now Rosie Waters. “Rosie is a professional,” says Charlie. “Broadway at age 15, lots of professional stage and modeling work. She’s helped me to be professional about my work. She’s stabilized me. A little.” He pauses to admire his peanut butter and jelly creation.

The other contributing influence in the rise of Charlie Waters was the arrival, two years ago, of Bob Ward, conditioning coach for the Cowboys. Bob Ward is a practitioner of jeet kune do, an Oriental martial art with an attendant philosophy. It was the man, more than the methods, that initially attracted Charlie Waters. “Bob Ward,” says Charlie with warm admiration, “is the kind of man you meet for the first time and know that you would like to spend a lot more time with him. You look in his eyes, and what you sense is truth.”

Through their friendship, Charlie gradually has become a student and devotee of the jeet kune do philosophy. It is not, he says, an easily explained approach. But basically, in the way the principles of yin and yang meld, jeet kune do incorporates the concepts of “force” and “finesse.” The ultimate state is “flow.” “And flow,” says Charlie, “is what I try to do.

“Let me show you something,” he says, leading to a back bedroom. One wall is tacked with watercolors. They are all of the same subject: bamboo. “This is what I do to relax. Chinese brush painting is my release. My quick trip. Underyou sense is truth.”

Through their friendship, Charlie gradually has become a student and devotee of the jeet kune do philosophy. It is not, he says, an easily explained approach. But basically, in the way the principles of yin and yang meld, jeet kune do incorporates the concepts of “force” and “finesse.” The ultimate state is “flow.” “And flow,” says Charlie, “is what I try to do.

“Let me show you something,” he says, leading to a back bedroom. One wall is tacked with watercolors. They are all of the same subject: bamboo. “This is what I do to relax. Chinese brush painting is my release. My quick trip. Understanding bamboo as you paint it, understanding its properties of strength with flexibility so that that understanding translates to the brush and shows in the painting- that’s as simple an instance of flow as I can give you.”

The air doesn’t burn with incense around Charlie’s head as he speaks. There is no faraway look in his eye. There is no fanaticism and no expounding of virtues. He offers no further explanations of the philosophy. But it is obvious that many of its tenets now apply in his approach to the game of football.

“So much of football now,” says Charlie, “is mental. There is talent everywhere. The difference is in the level of mental dedication. I’d say that during the season, 85 percent of my conscious thinking is about football, constantly preparing my mental state for Sunday. It’s a kind of emotional strategy. Many times during a week I’ll form a mental image of the game. I’ll envision the lights, the stadium, the uniform colors. Then I’ll form situations, plays and play reactions. Again and again, I’ll recreate the same situation. Repetition is critical. Eventually, the mind will hold the image and the reaction will become a motor response. The mind doesn’t know the difference between the imagined game and the real game. When the real game arrives, my mental response in prepared situations is automatic, unhindered by conscious thought. It’s a state of readiness. The opponents’ tight end standing bamboo as you paint it, understanding its properties of strength with flexibility so that that understanding translates to the brush and shows in the painting- that’s as simple an instance of flow as I can give you.”

The air doesn’t burn with incense around Charlie’s head as he speaks. There is no faraway look in his eye. There is no fanaticism and no expounding of virtues. He offers no further explanations of the philosophy. But it is obvious that many of its tenets now apply in his approach to the game of football.

“So much of football now,” says Charlie, “is mental. There is talent everywhere. The difference is in the level of mental dedication. I’d say that during the season, 85 percent of my conscious thinking is about football, constantly preparing my mental state for Sunday. It’s a kind of emotional strategy. Many times during a week I’ll form a mental image of the game. I’ll envision the lights, the stadium, the uniform colors. Then I’ll form situations, plays and play reactions. Again and again, I’ll recreate the same situation. Repetition is critical. Eventually, the mind will hold the image and the reaction will become a motor response. The mind doesn’t know the difference between the imagined game and the real game. When the real game arrives, my mental response in prepared situations is automatic, unhindered by conscious thought. It’s a state of readiness. The opponents’ tight end moves to block our strongside linebacker. My body is in motion to stop the inside running play before my conscious mind actually sorts through the logic of it. My body is prepared for the impact and the pain before my mind can react against it.

“There’s no complete preparation. Every game is different. You have to be flexible. That’s where flow becomes important. It really becomes an almost physical sensation. If a certain situation becomes difficult during a game, if I’m having trouble with a particular move or movement, I’ll stop, in my mind, I’ll take myself to the top of the stadium and mentally, for a moment, become a fan. Then I’ll replay the situation and watch it from this new perspective, which is a better actual view of the game than what we see from the field. Lots of times I’ve been able to recognize the problem from this vantage point and make the right adjustments.”

Tom Landry cites as Waters’ best quality “his ability to understand both defense and offense. The ability to understand offense from a defensive perspective is invaluable.” Charlie concurs. “That’s the thing that keeps me interested in the game – getting inside the offensive mind and reading it. The concept of team defense may sound trite, but that’s what I thrive on: the idea of the whole unit moving smoothly in reaction to the offense.”

His recognition of offense accounts for moves to block our strongside linebacker. My body is in motion to stop the inside running play before my conscious mind actually sorts through the logic of it. My body is prepared for the impact and the pain before my mind can react against it.

“There’s no complete preparation. Every game is different. You have to be flexible. That’s where flow becomes important. It really becomes an almost physical sensation. If a certain situation becomes difficult during a game, if I’m having trouble with a particular move or movement, I’ll stop, in my mind, I’ll take myself to the top of the stadium and mentally, for a moment, become a fan. Then I’ll replay the situation and watch it from this new perspective, which is a better actual view of the game than what we see from the field. Lots of times I’ve been able to recognize the problem from this vantage point and make the right adjustments.”

Tom Landry cites as Waters’ best quality “his ability to understand both defense and offense. The ability to understand offense from a defensive perspective is invaluable.” Charlie concurs. “That’s the thing that keeps me interested in the game – getting inside the offensive mind and reading it. The concept of team defense may sound trite, but that’s what I thrive on: the idea of the whole unit moving smoothly in reaction to the offense.”

His recognition of offense accounts for the fact that Waters calls signals for the Cowboy defensive backfield, one of two regular duties he performs that generally go unnoticed. The other is his role as placekick holder on field goals and extra points. Ermal Allen, Cowboy special assistant, calls Waters “the best kick holder in football,” and that’s probably an accurate assessment. Expecting him to say no, you still feel compelled to ask Charlie if there’s a secret. “Yeah, there is. Maybe not a secret since anybody who looked could see it. Most kick holders position themselves like this [he kneels on his left knee and extends his right leg forward]. But I sit like this [he kneels on his right knee and then squats froglike with his left knee raised].” The left knee, he explains, serves as a kind of brace and placement guideline as he brings the ball back. It seems highly appropriate that Charlie Waters, the perfectionist, should have honed his kick holding talents more precisely than anyone. It seems even more appropriate that Charlie Waters, the underrated, should have become premiere in one of the most unheralded chores in football. “Yeah,” he says, “I suppose it is the classic unsung position. The only publicity a kick holder can get is bad publicity. Actually, the most underrated player on any team is the center on kicks. It’s one of the most difficult things in football and the only time you notice them is when they sail one over the kicker’s head. In fact, all offensive linemen the fact that Waters calls signals for the Cowboy defensive backfield, one of two regular duties he performs that generally go unnoticed. The other is his role as placekick holder on field goals and extra points. Ermal Allen, Cowboy special assistant, calls Waters “the best kick holder in football,” and that’s probably an accurate assessment. Expecting him to say no, you still feel compelled to ask Charlie if there’s a secret. “Yeah, there is. Maybe not a secret since anybody who looked could see it. Most kick holders position themselves like this [he kneels on his left knee and extends his right leg forward]. But I sit like this [he kneels on his right knee and then squats froglike with his left knee raised].” The left knee, he explains, serves as a kind of brace and placement guideline as he brings the ball back. It seems highly appropriate that Charlie Waters, the perfectionist, should have honed his kick holding talents more precisely than anyone. It seems even more appropriate that Charlie Waters, the underrated, should have become premiere in one of the most unheralded chores in football. “Yeah,” he says, “I suppose it is the classic unsung position. The only publicity a kick holder can get is bad publicity. Actually, the most underrated player on any team is the center on kicks. It’s one of the most difficult things in football and the only time you notice them is when they sail one over the kicker’s head. In fact, all offensive linemen are underrated, much more so than I am. They’re a different breed, but there’s beauty there. They’re the most well-adjusted people in football. No doubt about it. They have the right perspective. They don’t get the ink and don’t need it. Yeah, those guys really have it together …”

His voice trails off as his sleepy eyes light up with an obvious restlessness. “It’s easy to get too serious about football. It’s war. And it’s dangerous. But above that, it’s fun. I truly love to play the game. I can feel the fans when I’m out there. They’re like kids when they watch the game, and I’m like a kid when I play it. I have a very definite goal and that’s to be the best strong safety ever to play the game. But if that happened, I wouldn’t recognize it. The high would be over. No, all the fun is in getting there.”



T’ here’s only one more question that needs to be asked, and that only to settle an earlier bar bet: What is the Clemson mascot? “The Bearclaws,” says Rosie assuredly. “The Bearclaws?” screams Charlie in horror. are underrated, much more so than I am. They’re a different breed, but there’s beauty there. They’re the most well-adjusted people in football. No doubt about it. They have the right perspective. They don’t get the ink and don’t need it. Yeah, those guys really have it together …”

His voice trails off as his sleepy eyes light up with an obvious restlessness. “It’s easy to get too serious about football. It’s war. And it’s dangerous. But above that, it’s fun. I truly love to play the game. I can feel the fans when I’m out there. They’re like kids when they watch the game, and I’m like a kid when I play it. I have a very definite goal and that’s to be the best strong safety ever to play the game. But if that happened, I wouldn’t recognize it. The high would be over. No, all the fun is in getting there.”



T’ here’s only one more question that needs to be asked, and that only to settle an earlier bar bet: What is the Clemson mascot? “The Bearclaws,” says Rosie assuredly. “The Bearclaws?” screams Charlie in horror. “Isn’t that what’s on the helmet?” asks Rosie. “That’s a tiger paw,” says Charlie. “It’s the Clemson Tigers. Man,” he chuckles, “I’m so underrated my own wife doesn’t even know anything about me.”

Not for long, Charlie. Not for long. Already the TV sports announcers who raved before about Cliff Harris, are beginning to talk about “Harris and Waters – probably the best pair of safeties in football.” CBS Sports recently taped a film interview with Charlie and the nation saw him in his back yard talking about blocking punts. He has in fact developed a penchant for big, sometimes spectacular plays lately. Those don’t go unnoticed. His performance thus far this season is likely to bring him All-Pro honors. And if the Cowboys continue their march into the Superbowl, the bright lights will be on everyone, including Charlie Waters.



Two days after charcoaling hamburgers amidst the serenity of the Animal Farm, Charlie Waters, amidst “Isn’t that what’s on the helmet?” asks Rosie. “That’s a tiger paw,” says Charlie. “It’s the Clemson Tigers. Man,” he chuckles, “I’m so underrated my own wife doesn’t even know anything about me.”

Not for long, Charlie. Not for long. Already the TV sports announcers who raved before about Cliff Harris, are beginning to talk about “Harris and Waters – probably the best pair of safeties in football.” CBS Sports recently taped a film interview with Charlie and the nation saw him in his back yard talking about blocking punts. He has in fact developed a penchant for big, sometimes spectacular plays lately. Those don’t go unnoticed. His performance thus far this season is likely to bring him All-Pro honors. And if the Cowboys continue their march into the Superbowl, the bright lights will be on everyone, including Charlie Waters.



Two days after charcoaling hamburgers amidst the serenity of the Animal Farm, Charlie Waters, amidst the ferocious mayhem of Philadelphia’s Veteran’s Stadium, scooped up a blocked punt, swept into the end zone, and turned a tight game in favor of the Cowboys. He was in the limelight. He didn’t spike the ball. In fact, as he trotted to the sidelines under the gaze of the television cameras, he looked more aggravated than elated. Late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles still had a shot at last minute victory, but only if they could successfully recover an onside kick. They tried, but near the far sideline, a Cowboy fielded the kick, tucked the ball to his chest, and carefully curled his body around it. It was number 41. Probably nobody noticed. Probably, with the game cradled securely in his underrated arms, Charlie Waters, unseen behind his facemask, was smiling that unsung smile.

the ferocious mayhem of Philadelphia’s Veteran’s Stadium, scooped up a blocked punt, swept into the end zone, and turned a tight game in favor of the Cowboys. He was in the limelight. He didn’t spike the ball. In fact, as he trotted to the sidelines under the gaze of the television cameras, he looked more aggravated than elated. Late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles still had a shot at last minute victory, but only if they could successfully recover an onside kick. They tried, but near the far sideline, a Cowboy fielded the kick, tucked the ball to his chest, and carefully curled his body around it. It was number 41. Probably nobody noticed. Probably, with the game cradled securely in his underrated arms, Charlie Waters, unseen behind his facemask, was smiling that unsung smile.

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