Eagles => Eagles History => Topic started by: Fan_Since_64 on August 24, 2009, 06:36:30 PM

Title: #32 - Ricky Watters
Post by: Fan_Since_64 on August 24, 2009, 06:36:30 PM

Ricky Watters

Running back Ricky Watters, who played for the Eagles from 1995 thru ’97, was an accomplished player for the Birds, but a highly controversial one as well.

Ricky was picked in the 2nd round of the 1991 draft by the San Francisco 49ers out of Notre Dame, where he set the record for longest punt return in that school’s storied history (97 yards). His pro career began inauspiciously when he broke a foot in training camp and ended up spending the season on injured reserve. But he gained over a thousand yards rushing in ’92 and became a significant contributor to the team’s success over three years, capped by a three-TD performance in the Super Bowl victory over San Diego following the ’94 season.

Watters parted the 49ers as a free agent following that season amid much acrimony – the player criticizing the front office and offensive coordinator for a lack of respect, the team accusing him of selfishness. A transition free agent, the Eagles signed him to an offer sheet that the Niners chose not to match, and he came to Philadelphia amid both excitement and wariness. The Birds were excited by his obvious ability on the field, but rumors that he had only signed with the Eagles as a ploy to force more money out of the 49ers raised questions about his commitment to his new team. It didn’t help when, in his first game in Philadelphia, he gained only 37 yards on 17 carries and appeared to not give much effort toward catching a pass thrown in his direction in a dismal loss to Tampa Bay, and when questioned later uttered the words “For who? For what?” that many fans would never forget in spite of an apology and later accomplishments.

And there were accomplishments. After the inauspicious beginning to the 1995 season, Ricky went on to gain 1273 yards on the ground and catch 62 passes. He went over the thousand-yard mark all three seasons that he was with the Eagles, and never caught fewer than 48 passes. He gained a total of 3794 yards rushing on 975 carries for a 3.9-yard average and 31 TDs. His 353 carries in ’96 led the NFL (and set a team record), and the 1411 yards rushing that year are the second-highest total in Eagles history. Ricky had 12 hundred-yard rushing performances for the Eagles, with a high of 173 yards on 25 attempts, including a 49-yard touchdown, against the Miami Dolphins in 1996. Six of his hundred-yard totals came during the ’96 season. His longest run for the Eagles was a 57-yard carry against the Giants in 1995; his longest scoring run was of 56 yards, at Atlanta in ’96.

Ricky, at 6’1” and 217 pounds, was a very physically punishing power runner. He played with a passion and unique style that drew much admiration around the league, and in tandem with change-of-pace back Charlie Garner made the Eagles running game tough to stop.

An outstanding receiver out of the backfield as well as a workhorse running back, Watters caught a total of 161 passes for 1318 yards, an 8.2 average, and one TD. He had a high of 11 receptions for 90 yards vs. Washington in ’95.

While he scored two TDs in the Eagles’ 58-37 victory over Detroit in the playoffs following the 1995 season, including a 45-yard score on a pass from Rodney Peete, Ricky was not particularly effective in postseason play for the Birds – in three games, he rushed 51 times for 145 yards, a 2.8-yard average-per-carry, with one touchdown. He also caught 12 passes for 154 yards (a 12.8 average) and one TD.

Altogether, Ricky gained 5112 yards in total offense in Philadelphia, with a high of 1855 in 1996, when he also scored a career-high 13 TDs.

Watters was a second-team UPI all-NFC selection in 1995 and ’96, and went to the Pro Bowl after both of those seasons as well (he went to the Pro Bowl five times total, including three times as a 49er).

And yet there was always the controversy. No amount of carries was enough, and Watters was continually feuding with offensive coordinator Jon Gruden. A high-strung player who was quick to speak his mind on the sidelines and away from the playing field, he drew constant criticism for lacking maturity. His complaints for not getting the ball enough seemed odd during seasons when he was leading the league, or among the leaders, in total rushing attempts, as well as catching a healthy share of passes. While durable and well-conditioned, he tended to wear down with overuse, which also undermined his position.

The relationship between Ricky and the Eagles deteriorated both prior to and during the ’97 season, and the Birds made no attempt to sign him to a contract extension; he left as he came, signing as a free agent with the Seattle Seahawks in 1998. With the Seahawks, he became the first player in NFL history to gain a thousand yards rushing in a season with three different teams. His career came to an end in 2001.

Watters was an enigma to many who could appreciate his ability, but not his complaints. He will long be remembered as a talented performer for the Birds and the best player on the offense during his three seasons in Philadelphia. But he is also remembered for his complaints and “me-first” attitude.

Ricky Watters’ career record with the Eagles:





Title: Re: #32 - Ricky Watters
Post by: Fan_Since_64 on August 24, 2009, 06:53:06 PM
Other Eagles who wore #32:

Everitt Rowan (E, 1933)
Fred "Nip" Felber (E, 1933)
Glenn Frey (Blocking Back/DB, 1936-37)
Irv Hall (FB/LB, 1942)
Charlie Gauer (E, 1943-44)
Toimi Jarvi (HB/DB, 1944)
John Rogalla (FB/LB, 1945)
Jack Myers (FB/LB, 1948-50)
Neil Worden (FB, 1954, 57)
Joe Pagliei (FB, 1959)
Roger Gill (HB, 1964-65)
Rick Duncan (P, 1968)
Jack Smith (DB, 1971)
Charles Ford (DB, 1974)
Herb Lusk (RB, 1976-78)
Earl Carr (RB, 1979)
Jim Culbreath (FB, 1980)
Booker Russell (FB, 1981)
Michael Williams (RB, 1983-84)
Michael Ulmer (DB, 1987 - replacement player)
Walter Abercrombie (RB, 1988)
James Joseph (RB, 1991-94)
Jason Bostic (DB, 1999-2000)
Michael Lewis (DB, 2000-06 - runner-up)
Marcus Paschal (DB, 2007)
Kyle Eckel (FB, 2008)
Title: Re: #32 - Ricky Watters
Post by: Rome on August 24, 2009, 07:21:15 PM
I loved Ricky Watters when he played in Philly.  The "for who, for what" bullshtein pretty much doomed him from the start as an Eagle, but when he was at his best, he was one of the greatest running backs ever.  He had the whole package - speed, power, illusiveness and great hands out of the backfield.

What a shame he only lasted three seasons for the Birds.
Title: Re: #32 - Ricky Watters
Post by: ice grillin you on August 24, 2009, 08:20:35 PM
he had terrible speed...but everything else

and i agree i loved him as well....the alligator arms stuff was so played out

and omg those jerseys.....FAP
Title: Re: #32 - Ricky Watters
Post by: MDS on August 24, 2009, 11:07:08 PM
1995 eagles first true team i followed. those jerseys were off the chain
Title: Re: #32 - Ricky Watters
Post by: Don Ho on August 24, 2009, 11:12:32 PM
What was the final score of that game against Tampa?  If I recall the birds looked like crap all day and the alligator arm incident was the last of their worries.

I also remember Ty Detmer tearing him a second icehole during a Sunday night game at Minnesota for the same shtein.
Title: Re: #32 - Ricky Watters
Post by: Fan_Since_64 on August 25, 2009, 08:01:32 AM
Tampa Bay won by a 21-6 score. Taking a look at the stats 14 years later confirms my memory that no one had a good day.  :-\
Title: Re: #32 - Ricky Watters
Post by: Rome on August 25, 2009, 04:12:10 PM
I got one of the new jerseys from QVC when they first came out.  It was a numbered limited edition jersey and the first thing I thought when it came in the mail was it looked like the Jets jerseys.

Awful - but those were at least better than the current ones, if that's even possible.
Title: Re: #32 - Ricky Watters
Post by: Drunkmasterflex on August 26, 2009, 12:30:00 AM
I didn't even get a chance to watch that game it was blacked out here.  He was a hell of running back, the days of him and Charlie while short lived were amazing.  I am a huge fan of running the ball a ton.

As far as the jerseys go I could stand them when I was a kid, but now I look at them and wonder why they ever changed.
Title: Re: #32 - Ricky Watters
Post by: General_Failure on August 26, 2009, 12:43:55 AM
I had my aunt in Tampa mail me a copy of the game. Don't think I ever got around to watching it.
Title: Re: #32 - Ricky Watters
Post by: BigEd76 on September 04, 2009, 03:13:24 PM
That '95 Watters jersey was the first one I ever bought and I wore it to class several times in college (in Giants country).  When they switched to the midnight green the following year, I got that one too...