The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Former Cowboy Waters enjoying current team’s rise

The Dallas Cowboys are off to a good start, reaching the midway point of the 2007 season with a 7-1 record, a so far successful new head coach and a soon-to-be new stadium.

With a fresh foundation to work from and rapidly building momentum to propel them to victory, the Dallas Cowboys might be embarking on a path to reclaim its throne as the best team in the NFL, said Charlie Waters.

And he should know. Waters was a mainstay for the Dallas Cowboys’ defense during what the NFL refers to as the “glory years” of the franchise: 1970 to 1981. Called “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys were the team to beat in the 1970s, and Waters believes the team could be again, maybe even this year.

“If the Cowboy fans find some patience, I definitely think Dallas will see the glory days again,” Waters said. “The Cowboys are destined for a comeback.”

As a key player in the Cowboys’ feared “Doomsday Defense” of the ’70s, Waters helped lead his team to five Super Bowls: V, VI, X, XII and XIII, with victories in VI and XII. Waters, along with such legendary players as Roger Staubach and Cliff Harris, provided the blood, sweat and tears that built the foundation for the future of the Dallas Cowboys franchise.

Waters recently sat down for an interview at a Dallas area Starbucks to reminisce about the team’s glory years and give his insight on the current state of the franchise.

The 1970s embodied the victory and domination that once went hand-in-hand with the Dallas Cowboys, and it was during this decade that the team was christened “America’s Team.” Today, the Dallas Cowboys are commonly considered a good team, but it has been over a decade since the team was regarded as the best team in the NFL.

Waters served as a strong safety in the original Dallas Cowboys’ all-star lineup. He played 11 years with the Cowboys and never experienced a losing season. He currently holds the NFL record for the most interceptions in playoff games.

“Charlie Waters was the down-home guy that everyone could relate to, and for that reason he really personified the Cowboys as ‘America’s Team,'” Rhett Carter, a 22-year-old TCU student and a self-proclaimed die-hard fan, said.

Raised in North Augusta, S.C., Waters said that he always knew he was destined for more than what his small town could offer. Waters dedicated himself to his love for football as the high school quarterback, and it soon became apparent to his family and coaches that his passion was also his gift.

Waters went to Clemson University where he had a successful college career, also as a quarterback. In the 1970 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys, a relatively new team, selected the 20-year-old in a third-round pick.

Never having stepped foot on an airplane before, Waters flew to Dallas where he was met with an unusual request. Tom Landry, the first head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and the youngest NFL head coach ever hired, asked the college quarterback to play defense.

“They asked me, ‘Can you backpedal?’ and I just said ‘Sure, whatever you want me to do I will do,” Waters said.

Waters took on the challenge, rightfully putting his trust in coach Landry. He soon became a defensive mainstay for an emerging NFL powerhouse.

Winning more games in the ’70s than any other team in the NFL, the Cowboys quickly gained notoriety, changing America’s perception of the city of Dallas itself. Instead of being remembered as the place where President Kennedy had been killed, Dallas became known as the home of the Dallas Cowboys football franchise.

Mitch Wynne, a 54-year-old Dallas resident, witnessed the team’s effect on the city. “The Cowboys became Dallas’ claim to fame. The team brought the city together, and that team, I’m telling you, was unstoppable,” he said.

Dallas quickly became synonymous with the culture of American football, and the players themselves were thrown into a whirlwind of high-profile fame in the city.

“Pro-football became and still remains a phenomena in America. It’s like the gladiators in the coliseum. It’s either kill or be killed,” Waters said.

The Cowboys soon became the most expensive, highest valued franchise team in the world; however, the glory days ended with the decade.

Waters’ wife, Rosie, was a top model and a successful actress when she moved back to Dallas from New York in the 1970s. When she met and began dating Charlie, Rosie saw firsthand the fascination and mania that surrounded the Cowboys.

Rosie recalled one of their first dates when Waters took her to a charming Italian restaurant where an intimate dinner quickly became a communal shindig when some uninvited female admirers spotted their corner table. Suddenly a herd of women rushed toward the table, clamoring to talk to Charlie as they flipped their hair and hurdled themselves into his line of vision.

“I have never had so many purses swung at my face in my life,” Rosie said.

Charlie and Rosie married and had two sons before Waters retired in 1982. Waters played 12 years for the Cowboys, a long NFL career by today’s standards, when the average is 3.2 years in the league.

Waters remained active in the football world, working as an analyst for CBS sports and serving as the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos and subsequently for the Oregon Ducks. Waters moved back to Dallas with his family in 1996. In 2006, Waters came back to the Cowboys to serve as the color commentator for the Cowboys Radio Network.

The team experienced a second reign of victory in the 1990s with the help of head coach Jimmy Johnson and a new wave of players such as Troy Aikman. Now, the glory years experienced by the Cowboys in the 1970s and again in the 1990s seem long gone, as the team has not played in a Super Bowl since 1995.

“There is no such thing as a dynasty forever,” Waters said. “I really think the downfall of the Cowboys has been a reflection of the coaching as well as underestimating the value of the quarterback.”

After a devastating finish to the 2006 Cowboys season, Bill Parcells announced his retirement. On Feb. 8, 2007, Wade Phillips was named the Dallas Cowboys’ new head coach. The installment of a new coach with a fresh approach might make all the difference in reviving the team and beginning a new ascent to the top.

“I promise you, Wade Phillips will build a great defense and a great team,” Waters said.

Phillips will be leading the plethora of talent comprising today’s team, including star players such as quarterback Tony Romo and wide-receiver Terrell Owens. Tony Romo was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September.

Having worked with Wade Phillips for seven years coaching the Denver Broncos, Waters knows the coach very well. He believes this change in coaching will be key in the Cowboys’ success, partly because Wade Phillips’ demeanor is completely different than Bill Parcells.

“His ego does not get in the way and he is going to encourage each player, especially Tony Romo, to reach his full potential,” Waters said.

The Dallas Cowboys are also on the brink of yet another major change. The team’s new stadium is under construction in Arlington, Texas and the Cowboys are expected to make the move before the 2009 season. The new stadium will then host Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6, 2011.

When the Cowboys moved from the Cotton Bowl into Texas Stadium in 1971, the new stadium symbolized a new beginning for the team. Leaving behind Texas Stadium for a new state-of-the art venue might have the same effect, serving as a catalyst for a comeback.

“The new stadium is exactly what Dallas deserves,” said Waters. “The stadium is fitting for this ‘sale’ city of glitter and excitement. To build the all-time greatest stadium is the kind of thing that keeps ‘America’s Team’ alive.”

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