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Old 02-13-2005, 02:07 AM  
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Whitlock: Waters now NFL's best

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansas...0887261.htm?1c

Waters now wears NFL's guard crown
JASON WHITLOCK

HONOLULU — It's Friday evening, less than 48 hours before his first Pro Bowl, and Chiefs guard Brian Waters is hosting a small get-together for family and friends at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Waters' crew is 30 deep — mom, grandmother, little brother, former college coach and lifelong friends from Waters' little country suburb just 10 miles south of Dallas. Everyone's playing dominoes or cards, including Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

“Man, this is unbelievable,” Waters said. “Some of these guys had never even been on a plane, let alone been out of Texas. And now they're playing dominoes with Donovan McNabb. Man, I'm having the time of my life.”

Brian Waters is an official NFL star now. His selection to play in tonight's Pro Bowl is pretty much confirmation that he's ascended to the throne most recently shared by teammate Will Shields and Cowboys man-mover Larry Allen. Waters is the best offensive guard in football.

Yes, he is. If he weren't, there's no way he would've been selected to play in this game. When you play on the same line as future Hall of Famers Shields and Willie Roaf and on a team that never contended for a playoff spot, you have to be better than everyone else just to get noticed.

You have to be amazing to get recognized as Pro Bowler. Shields, a guard, has been tabbed for 10 straight all-star games. Roaf, a left tackle, is a bona fide NFL legend. He's put together a resume as complete as Anthony Munoz's.

Waters outplayed Shields and Roaf this past season, even though Shields and Roaf improved in 2004. Waters' season was remarkable, as was his climb from high school utility skills player to North Texas tight end/defensive tackle to Cowboys “future Moose Johnston” to Kansas City Tim Grunhard replacement to 2005 Pro Bowler.

“I was born to play this game,” Waters told me Saturday morning. “I've never really been a star, but I've always won the respect of my coaches and teammates wherever I've played.”

In high school, Waters played linebacker, safety, running back and tight end. He was 6 feet 3, 215 pounds, a phenomenal weight lifter, quick enough to clock a sub-4.6 40-yard dash, agile enough to vertical leap 40 inches and play on the basketball wing alongside future NBAer Desmond Mason. But Waters was a mystery for college recruiters. His teammate, Montae Reagor, a defensive lineman for the Colts, was a prep All-American.

Only tiny North Texas could tell Waters exactly what position he should play — tight end. So Waters turned down the University of Texas El Paso, Houston and Arkansas. And for three years, Waters set a new standard for tight-end play at North Texas, catching 82 passes. Heck, Waters was so good, he even contemplated turning pro after his junior year. He caught 25 passes in the first five games of his junior season. Head coach Matt Simon, sensing he might get canned at the end of the season, explored Waters' NFL prospects. But an injury ruined the second half of Waters' junior campaign.

Simon, indeed, was replaced by current North Texas coach Darrell Dickey. Dickey's first order of business as the new coach was to tell Waters that North Texas' new offense did not utilize a tight end. Dickey asked Waters to switch to defensive tackle for his senior year.

“I was born to play this game,” Waters said. “What did I have to lose?”

Waters became a 270-pound, all-conference defensive tackle. He could bench press 600 pounds. He retained 4.6 speed. He remained a mystery for NFL scouts. What was he, a defensive tackle, a tight end, a fullback? No one knew. No one drafted Waters in 1999.

He signed as a free agent to play for his hometown team, the Chan Gailey-coached Dallas Cowboys. The 'Boys told Waters he'd be the replacement for Moose Johnston, Emmitt Smith's leading man.

“They said I'd be an H-back, fullback,” Waters said. “But they cut me at the end of training camp and didn't even put me on their practice squad.”

Late in the 1999 season, the Chiefs called Waters and asked him to come in for a tryout.

“They set up some cones and asked me to snap and pull,” Waters said, “and I was like, ‘What? I ain't no center.' I was mad. I wasn't happy about it at all. I had two other teams calling me for tryouts.”

But then-head coach Gunther Cunningham called Waters in Texas. With the Chiefs in a late-season push for the AFC West crown, Cunningham spent two to three hours on the phone pleading with Waters to sign with the Chiefs as a practice-squad player.

“I signed up the week we lost to the Raiders,” Waters remembered.

Waters served as Tim Grunhard's backup in 2000. The next year, Dick Vermeil signed veteran Casey Wiegmann to start. But a rash of injuries caused Marcus Spears to move from guard to tackle and opened up an opportunity for Waters to play at left guard.

In 2002, after the Chiefs added Roaf, Waters became a beast.

“I liked playing alongside John Tait,'' Waters said. “But Willie fits my personality. Willie doesn't let anything bother him. John was a perfectionist. You could feel him tensing up as the game went along.''

Tait moved to right tackle when Roaf arrived. In 2003 Tait and Shields formed the primary end zone highway for running back Priest Holmes, who loves to run right and cut back to his left. With Tait a member of the Chicago Bears this past season, the Chiefs ran almost exclusively behind Roaf and Waters. The opposition knew what was coming but couldn't stop it.

That's why Waters is in Honolulu for today's Pro Bowl.
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Old 02-13-2005, 02:20 AM   #2
Spicy McHaggis Spicy McHaggis is offline
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Kudos to Waters, he deserves every bit of this pro-bowl berth.
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Old 02-13-2005, 03:07 AM   #3
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Observation: Man, this whole year has been one gigantic Waters love fest.
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Old 02-13-2005, 04:01 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gochiefs
Observation: Man, this whole year has been one gigantic Waters love fest.
Additional Observation: Waters really kicked the crap out Ray Lewis on the Monday Nighter this previous season.

Last edited by beer bacon; 02-13-2005 at 01:31 PM..
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Old 02-13-2005, 04:05 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beer baron
Additional Observation: Waters really kicked the crap out Ray Lewis in the Monday Nighter this previous season.
Yeah that was great. I havent held Ray Lewis in nearly as high regard as i used to after that game either.
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Old 02-13-2005, 04:42 AM   #6
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I heard that Donovan was dry heaving near the end of that Dominoes game...
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Old 02-13-2005, 05:44 AM   #7
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I was hoping that Waters would be a part of the strongest man competition in yesterday's skills challenge. Laroi Glover won it with 32 reps of 225, and in two seperate articles, I've seen the Chiefs offensive line agree in unison that Waters was by far the strongest member of the line. I wonder what he could've done.
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Old 02-13-2005, 08:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaWolf
I heard that Donovan was dry heaving near the end of that Dominoes game...
I'm waiting for Rush to say blacks can't play dominoes.
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Old 02-13-2005, 08:08 AM   #9
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I saw the man do some amazing things this year. I'm very happy for him. He's one of my favs.
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Old 02-13-2005, 08:36 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beer baron
Additional Observation: Waters really kicked the crap out Ray Lewis in the Monday Nighter this previous season.
Cocky Agreement: Yes, he did quite well. For a meatbag.
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Old 02-13-2005, 12:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miles
Yeah that was great. I havent held Ray Lewis in nearly as high regard as i used to after that game either.
Ray Lewis was totally exposed this year. Once he lost his big fatty's up front (Saragusa, etc.) linemen pretty much had thier way with him. He's great out in space, but when you put him 1 on 1 with a quality linemen he's toast.

DT
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Old 02-13-2005, 01:16 PM   #12
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This is a great post! It realy feals good to read about the guy that nobody wanted, climb to the top and raise his fists in triumph. Also, Gunther knew there was untapped talent in Waters and he did what ever he needed to bring the man here where he belongs.
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Old 02-13-2005, 06:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaWolf
I heard that Donovan was dry heaving near the end of that Dominoes game...

Yeah. Brian Waters' grandma had to place his last tile for him.
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