Ricky Watters has his own TV show “Monday Night Live with Ricky Watters” - an hour-long show that is broadcast before each “Monday Night Football” game. He has featured his teammates on his show, his coaches and boxers, lots of different boxers. For one telecast, Watters wore baggy jeans and boots.
“And some people said, ‘Look at him! Why is he wearing that!”’ Watters said. “I said, why not? That’s me.”
That’s Watters dancing to his own tune. Watters loves music. Especially rap and hip-hop. He recently cut a rap song along with the rap king Method Man for NFL Jams. It featured several National Football League players singing with musical stars. Watters’ tune was “It’s in the Game.” A sample of Watters’ lines:
I’m free-styling, pro-filing
Won’t catch me smiling
Straight from Three Mile Island.
Watters is from Harrodsburg, Pa., near Three Mile Island, he explains.
He offers a little dance to the tune.
This is one of his favorite lines from one of his favorite raps: If you look at my life And see what I see It ain’t easy being me.
You see, it is not always easy for Ricky Watters to dance to his own tune.
But he keeps dancing. And there is plenty of fancy footwork left for Watters, 27, a snappy running back six years out of Notre Dame, two years removed from the San Francisco 49ers and two years with the Philadelphia Eagles. He arrived in Philadelphia eager to become the cornerstone, the go-to guy. It has not always worked out that way.
When Watters and the Eagles travel to San Francisco to play the 49ers on Sunday in a National Conference wild-card game, Watters will be making his first trip back to his first pro home. The name of the stadium has changed - from Candlestick to 3Com Park - and the coaches have changed. Ray Rhodes was in San Francisco with Watters as defensive coordinator but now he is head coach in Philadelphia. The faces among the 49ers have changed drastically since Watters left.
But some things have not changed. Ricky Watters and his penchant for dancing to his own tune. And his extreme desire to be seen and to be heard. To get the ball and get it some more.
“There was really only one thing that upset me after I left San Francisco, and that was Bart Oates’ saying I was not a team player,” Watters said.
“He came up to me at the Pro Bowl last year and apologized, so I feel better about that now. Hey, you can’t find a more disciplined player than me. I don’t hang out at bars. I seldom drink. I work hard in practice. I block when I don’t get the ball. The only problem anyone has with me is that I tell the truth.
“My dad even said to me once, ‘Why don’t you tone this or that down?’ What’s that? I am real. If you are not real, then who are you? If you are not going to be yourself, then who are you? I have always wanted my talent to be seen. If that happens, then good things come with it.”
Watters says he believes that as a running back there is nothing he cannot do. He may be right. He has wondrous size (he is 6-foot-1 and 217 pounds) and he is fast, quick and agile. He has soft, sure hands. He can take a pounding with the ball and offer a pounding with his blocks.
He is a team player very much aware of the “I” in his team. It’s the “I” part that causes controversy here and there.
“Ricky Watters is one heck of a football player,” said Eagles end William Fuller. “He is a little bit flamboyant and a little bit arrogant, but those are some of the characteristics that make him great. This game is not for the timid at all. People have to realize that. Do all of the players here understand him? Are they all crazy about him? Not all of them. But most of them are. There is a lot of jealousy in this league and some of it is right here.
“I first came into the league in 1986. I don’t know if some of the coaches I had back then could have handled Ricky. But coaches today better get ready for it. There are sure going to be a lot more players in this league like Ricky. It’s a new era. It kind of reminds me of when you’ll be with an older person and you see a kid walking down the street with his pants hanging way below the belt. They’ll say, ‘I sure wish that kid would get a belt.’ Uhuh. It’s a new generation. That’s Ricky. Don’t get caught up in the style or the personality. Look at the production.”
Rhodes does. And what he sees is a back who has produced in two Eagles seasons more than 3,000 all-purpose yards.
“For me, for Ricky, for all of the ex-49ers here, this is a business trip, plain and simple,” Rhodes said.
“I’m very happy to be making it with Ricky on my side. I have no problems whatsoever with Ricky. He’s done the job. We can use him more in different ways, maybe as a wideout or as a receiver, and we will find more ways to use him. To me, he is what coaching in the 90s is all about. It’s about communication and understanding. It’s about developing personality instead of forcing people to become something you think they should be.”
In fact, Watters said, Rhodes has kept an open-door policy since the first day Watters arrived. Although it has been reported that Rhodes has called Watters into his office on occasion to issue an ultimatum, both Watters and Rhodes said nothing like that has ever happened.
When Watters plays Sunday, a flood of memories will return. “I’ll be thinking, ‘Wow, I had a lot of great games here,”’ he said.
“But I won’t put it all on that level. If I reduce it to a level of me against the 49ers, I won’t be giving the team the best chance to win. I’m thankful to the 49ers. They drafted me. They were the team that in the second round, after so many had passed me by, gave me a chance. A Super Bowl ring. These playoffs aren’t about one game. It’s about winning all the way till the end. Like so many things, it’s a matter of interpretation.”
Like so many things with Ricky Watters.