Cards: Action Packed Rookies 1991, Star Pics 1991
Acquired: TTM 2011, C/o Home
Sent: 2/14/11 Received: 12/10/15 (1760 days)
Ricky Watters really distinguished himself at Notre Dame not only as just a runningback but as a flanker for the Irish (after Tim Brown departed for the NFL) in 1988. He’d help the team secure the National Championship at the conclusion of the year. Ricky returned to his native position in 1989 and finished second in team rushing yards behind Tony Rice. He ended his college career at ND with 1,814 yards rushing and 2,424 yards receiving. A surprisingly nimble return man, Watters also had 502 yards and 3 TDs on punts. Ricky had an extremely unique rushing style that allowed him to absorb hits while staying upright, and dodge would be ankle tackles by high-stepping. Big and fast, with exceptional and fluid quickness to the hole, Ricky was considered a very good athlete by scouts, but they were unsure of his ability to run north-south. San Fransisco selected Ricky in the second round with the fourth pick in the 1991 draft. Watters had his work cut out for him, being in the unenviable position of replacing longtime stalwart back Roger Craig.
Ricky’s rookie season was a complete loss for the 49ers as he spent the whole year shelved on injured reserve. He’d return for 1992 to pick up the slack and run for over 1,000 yards and a Pro Bowl appearance. While his next two seasons were middling near 1,000 yards rushing, it was really his ability to catch out of the backfield that made Watters an adaptable and dangerous runningback. In Super Bowl XXIX, Watters scored 3 touchdowns, but was beaten out for MVP honors by Steve Young.
In 1995, Ricky signed a lucrative free agent contract with the Philadelphia Eagles helping to turn around the franchise’s bad fortunes. Running Waters had 1,707 yards from scrimmage that year, and led the league the next year in both carries (353) and yards from scrimmage (1,855). Despite having a pretty good season in 1997, Ricky was allowed to leave for greener pastures in 1998- signing with the Seattle Seahawks. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the next 3 seasons, and another 1,855 yards from scrimmage in 2000, but he did not earn Pro Bowl honors again. Overshadowed by young Shaun Alexander in Seattle, Watters entered a period of semi-retirement after the 2001 season. He was contacted by many teams including the Eagles, Bucs, and Colts, but eventually opted to retire.
Watters’ body has suffered from the punishment of the hits he took over the years- A byproduct of 2,622 carries and 467 receptions. He like many players suffers from concussions, and is a member of the concussion litigation group that took the league to court. Many of his injuries were misdiagnosed and healed incorrectly, such as his cracked sternum. He also suffers from arthritis. Despite all this Ricky gives back to the community by through the Ricky Watters Foundation, coaching, and around the Orlando area, where he hopes to instill grounded values into his boys. He loves to paint and recently went back to school to receive his degree in Graphic Design from Notre Dame.
Watters is a member of the vaunted 10,000 yard club and finished with 5 Pro Bowl appearances. His 3 TDs from scrimmage during Super Bowl XXIX ties a mark held by Jerry Rice, Terrell Davis, and Roger Craig. Running Waters also holds two other interesting distinctions: He along with Willis McGahee are the only two runningbacks to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season with 3 different teams. His career long carry of 57 yards is also the lowest among runningback with over 10,000 yards- meaning he really ground out the yards.
While he has been nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he has not made it to the final cut.
Many years ago, I mailed the 49ers for Ricky’s autograph on the Action Packed Rookies card, but when I received the card back, it was stamped on the back. When I returned to the hobby in 2010, I decided to get this card signed again. I did not realize how long I’d wait as this response is now the longest wait/response in my collection.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a total stranger on Facebook, asking me if I had lived in California. Well after a long conversation it was revealed that the new tenant at my old address (from which the forwarding had expired some- 3 years ago or so) had received a few pieces of mail of mine, so I kindly gave her my forwarding address.
About a week or two later, I received a really nice Christmas card from her. Inside was a handwritten note, that warmed my heart. I had always wondered what it was like to receive a TTM request, and this really almost felt like it, especially when they told me that they had been looking for me for such a long time and how much it mattered to them to get these autographs in the right hands.
Lo and behold were autographs from Ricky Watters and Bruce Lasane (both circa 2011). The people who mailed them to me asked nothing in return except that I have a Merry Christmas. (I am still going to send them a gift card or something.)
It’s so hard in this world now, to genuinely take people at face value when they just want to do something good for you. It’s so easy to not trust, or believe that there’s a hidden motivation behind everyone’s actions. I could have just said, “No way, I’m not giving you my address!”, but instead I just went with my gut and the sincerity that was contained in the original message. Anyway, if there is a moral to be learned from this, I guess it’s that there are good strangers in this world. Merry Christmas everybody!
G/Gs 144/142 Rush 2622 Yds 10643 Avg 4.1 Td 78 Lg 57
Rec 467 Yds 4248 Avg9.1 Td 13 Lg 65