Andre Waters, former Eagles strong safety, dead at age 44. The Raleigh News & Observer reported that he died today from a single gunshot to the head. His sister-in-law said it was suicide.

Mark Bowden covered the Eagles three seasons, from 1990 to 1992, and wrote a chapter about Waters in his book about the team, Bringing The Heat.

I called Bowden this afternoon to find out about the undersized player who worked his way out of The Muck in Pahokee, Fla. to embody the ferocity of the Buddy Ryan-era Birds:

As a football player he always struck me as never being quite as full of himself as most of the guys in the locker room. He was much more a real person. In very practical terms, most players are placed on such a pedestal when they're playing. They view the sportwriters who show up in the locker room as 2-3 levels below fans on their list of priorities -- scorn is mostly what you'd face. When you approached Andre, he would look you in the eye. He was more mature than the other players and very approachable. And just real. A real person.

I always really liked Andre though I thought he was a little crazy. He used to psyche himself up for games. He was extremely superstitious. I thought he'd almost put himself a trance when he played. He had these nicknames for himself when he was a player, He made a conscious effort to turn himself into another person when he was playing - and he was a vicious player. Others viewed him as a dangerous player and a dirty player. I think it was that he was overcompensating for the fact he was smaller and a little less athletic . He made himself into a professional football player by intensity and intelligence and willpower.

In the book, Bowden writes of Waters:

Even as a kid back in Pahokee, his unofficial assignment on defense was to rough up the other team's star player. Playing safety in the pro (for Buddy) gave full license to this approach, since in many formations, Andre's job was just to move to the ball. And Andre would make it his business to get in one good hammer -- late, low, unncessarily high, it didn't matter - sufficient to send a message. The message was You could get hurt out here. 

Waters was never drafted and signed with the Eagles as a free agent, Bowden said by phone. This meant he was paid less than players who weren't as good as he was. Bowden said, "it made him angry."

A 2004 story on the Eagles Web site described Waters as a defensive coordinator for St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, N.C. He'd coached as several schools after trying golf. At the time of his death, he was working as an assistant coach at Fort Valley State in Georgia.

The Cheney University grad started at strong safety for the Birds between 1986 and 1993. He recalled for the 2004 story on the Eagles Web site what it was like to play here:

Philadelphia Eagles fans are the best fans in America. They always treated me very special and they still do today. We knew the 'Vet' would be rocking every time we stepped into that stadium.

Stanley Levin
Posted 11/20/2006 01:18:28 PM
Andre: You were 'one of the best' at your position we've ever had here. They said you were 'a dirty player' but you played 'Philadelphia Eagles Football', tough and hardnosed. You will be missed by this lifetime Philadelphia Eagles fan.

Rest in Peace Andre.

Posted 11/20/2006 01:29:02 PM
I'm in total shock to read of the passing of Andre Waters. He is one of the all time great Eagles in my opinion. Eagles fans just loved this guy for his hard hitting style for Buddy Ryan's defense.
Andre will be missed big time.
May God bless him.
Posted 11/20/2006 01:37:22 PM
Sorry to learn of Andre's death.  I did not know him, but he was a helluva football player.  The man came to play every time.  His team and teammates and the fans were never cheated.
Posted 11/20/2006 01:49:15 PM
As a former college teammate, I considered Waters one of the hardest hitting players ever. Waters also approached the game with intelligence. You will be missed bruh....
Adam Kramer
Posted 11/20/2006 01:55:27 PM
I am in shock. Wow. When I was 16, I drove down to the old vet practice fields and got Waters' autograph. What a kind man he was. 
What a loss. 
Posted 11/20/2006 02:01:00 PM
Love ya, Dirty Waters.  One of my favorite Philly players of all time.  Still remember when you speared that Saints wideout after the game was over.  Classic.
Posted 11/20/2006 02:08:58 PM
I was a 4/5th grade teacher in Phila and Andre was gracious enough to autograph a photo of himself and wish these children success.Our room was in the trees on the 3rd floor and I called it "the  Eagles nest" A warm and kind young man. My prayers are with your family
Posted 11/20/2006 02:17:57 PM
I'm so out done about Andre's death. At such a young age. God please bring comfort to his family and kids in this time of need. Andre you will be missed by philly believe that, just because your body has been removed our spirits will always have a connection, until the day I rest I say unto you I'll see you when I get there!!!!RIP ANDRE!!!!!
Sammie Jenkins III
Posted 11/20/2006 02:19:57 PM
I just want to let Coach Waters know that he was one of the best coaches I had ever had(SAC). I thank him for letting pick his brain and learn the game of football the time we spent together. Andre you will always be missed and I THANKYOU!

Posted 11/20/2006 02:28:03 PM
Yesterday the Eagles suffered a major loss on the field and potential career ending injury to their franchise QB.  He will recover and hopefully come back to lead our Birds.  Andre's loss today is much more devastating.  44 is way to young to no longer be laughing and living life.  I recall meeting him and being struck by how kind, soft spoken, approachable and gracious he was off the field.  His on field demeanor was intense, perhaps analogous to Brian Dawkins, but with a tenth of the god-given football ability.  He played every game like the Eagles might cut him the next game.  My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends. 
Scott Ritter
Posted 11/20/2006 02:38:09 PM

Rest in peace.  

Posted 11/20/2006 02:43:27 PM
Heartfelt prayers and condolences to the family of Andre Waters.  News of his passing has shocked and saddened me.  I'll always remember the hard-working, fierce hitter that he was on the field, where no one showed more heart than he did.  Nor will I forget the soft-spoken, caring person that he was off the field.  I feel that the "Dirty Waters" reputation was highly overblown.  You don't come from where he came, and overcome the obstacles that he did, without tremendous internal fire.  I prefer to think he got the most of of his modest physical gifts through his sheer toughness.  And I found his style of play inspiring.  Some of these current Eagles could use his intensity.  May God keep you close, and give comfort to you and your loved ones.  Thank you.
Posted 11/20/2006 02:46:19 PM
My mom and mom in law attend church with Waters' mom, sisters, neices and other family. His mom is a sweetie! Im sure her heart is broken. We will pray for those who knew and loved him best. Ane we will also pray for his fans and all the lives that he touched!!!!!!
Posted 11/20/2006 02:49:38 PM
Who better engulphed Eagle Football. Tough,playing 100% every play and yet off the field just a person that all would have been lucky to get to know. I watched Andre for 9 years, and now feel enriched by that. I will miss Andre and he will be a great loss to the Sports fraternity in Philadelphia. Prayers to his family and to all that were so close to him on a personal basis. But know this the fans appreciated and know he played for US. Wow does this put a loss on Sunday in perspective...what a loss to us all!
Posted 11/20/2006 02:52:40 PM
He apparently committed suicide. A huge loss.
joe devlin
Posted 11/20/2006 02:53:24 PM
andre never cheated the paying fans.if you steped on to the field you were fair game to be hit. 
H Douglas Walker
Posted 11/20/2006 03:11:29 PM
What a sad, sad loss. May God grant peace to his family, former teammates and friends.
Posted 11/20/2006 03:23:36 PM
maybe the eagles can get the meaning of life and the power of one and the unyielding strength and determination of rocky 6 and put the andre waters legacy of never leaving it out on the field to use in the season's final 6 games . we can make all the members or GANG GREEN proud if we think of what jerome , reggie and andre would have played like in these times !
Posted 11/20/2006 03:25:50 PM
maybe the eagles can get the meaning of life and the power of one and the unyielding strength and determination of rocky 6 and put the andre waters legacy of never leaving it out on the field to use in the season's final 6 games . we can make all the members or GANG GREEN proud if we think of what jerome , reggie and andre would have played like in these times !
T Bohannon
Posted 11/20/2006 03:26:04 PM
I was a student at Alabama State University when coach Waters was there. I was sad and shocked to here about this. He will be missed and his family is in my prayers. 
Posted 11/20/2006 03:26:42 PM
My favorite Eagle of all time. He left everything out on the field and did whatever it took to make a play. Man he's going to be missed. RIP, Andre. 
Posted 11/20/2006 03:43:14 PM
Andre Waters was everything Philadelphia football was when they were tough and section 751 loved him for it. The Rocky Balboa of the Eagles would have smacked TO in the face and never let that chaos happen. He would have been sick playing on this year's team. 
Remember Buddy Ball with bounties on people's heads?? THAT'S PHILLY FOOTBALL Andre, B&E, Reggie, Jerome, Clyde, Seth, EA, man that was Eagles football, TOUGH AND MEAN!!! We wanted them to win but didn't care if they lost because they were tough and fought their hardest every game. 
I'm sick of this current team, they're a bunch of quitting pussies!!! I hope Trotter and Dawkins read this too, you're the LEADERSHIP of a team of quitting pussies!!!
Posted 11/20/2006 03:43:47 PM
This news has just saddened me terribly. I can't imagine the depths of pain and loneliness he must have been feeling to take his own life. He was always one of my favorite Eagles and I will miss him.
Posted 11/20/2006 03:45:04 PM
This is a terrible loss for the Glades. Andre was an inspiration to many upcoming athletes. Prayers are being sent up for his family and loved ones!God Bless
Posted 11/20/2006 04:13:24 PM
Eagle fan almost 50 years. Andre is my all time favorite Eagle. The period that he played (late 80's, early 90's) was the most enjoyable Eagle football to watch. Even losing a game, I loved to watch that defense intimidate even the best teams in the league. Andre was a prime player in that whole show. I've missed him for years, I doubt if he'd even fit in with this current crop of corporate Eagles. God bless ya , man.     Rich
Posted 11/20/2006 04:24:58 PM
We're tough fans and we're tough on our teams, but we stick with our guys through thick and thin.  Andre was one of our all-time favorites the entire city feels the loss, but we've still got our memories of those bonecrushing hits. RIP, Andre.
Posted 11/20/2006 04:42:13 PM
Eagles fans down in Texas and everywhere are saddened by the loss today of Andre Waters.... RIP
Section 258 Vet Stadium
Posted 11/20/2006 04:42:21 PM
Thanks for showing us all what someone with heart could do as an underdog.

Posted 11/20/2006 04:42:58 PM
Andre Waters was what every football player should be. He had the biggest heart and was the best tackler I've ever seen. If the ball carrier was in front of Andre, it was guaranteed that dude was gonna get nailed.
Posted 11/20/2006 04:55:46 PM
A sad day for philadelphia.Waters played the way we respected,tremendous desire was his trademark.He played every game like it was an honor to put on the silver and green.We could sure use more like him now.
Posted 11/20/2006 05:49:08 PM
today is a sad day in football and at fort valley state. thanks coach for teaching me so much about the game and pushing me to be the best player i could be. wish u could be here to show me more about that 46 but u showed me more than football. wish we could have got our masters degree together but it is because of u that i want to get one. u will be missed and forgotten. wish everyone that played the game of football played it and loved it like you. #58 F.V.S.U

Posted 11/20/2006 05:51:31 PM
Posted 11/20/2006 05:54:41 PM
You had everything to live for. You could have made a difference. You took the easy way out. Why ? Why ? Why ?
Posted 11/20/2006 06:07:32 PM
 So sad to hear the news about Andre Waters death. he was one of my favorite Eagles players.  RIP Andre.
Joe Verica
Posted 11/20/2006 06:08:30 PM
Three defensive players epitomized the Eagles defense during the Buddy Ryan era. Reggie White, Jerome Brown, and Andre Waters. Sadly, they are all gone.

Requiscat in Pace
Tim B.
Posted 11/20/2006 06:08:59 PM
In my mind, Andre Waters was the very embodiment of what Philadelphia Eagles football was and is about.  Maybe not the most athletics, but tops in effort, intensity, and pehaps imperfection, but ALWAYS in pursuit of victory and respect.  His nickname was "Muddy" Waters, but he was OURS, one of us, and he always will be.  RIP
Posted 11/20/2006 06:46:51 PM
What a shock. I'll always remember how fierce he was patrolling the field with Wes Hopkins. May his loved ones find peace. God Bless!!!
Posted 11/20/2006 08:21:22 PM
What a sad day for the world of sports and longtime Eagles fans all over. Andre Waters was the epitomy of what Eagles football used to be and should be today. He played with heart and soul, and I wish Eagles players of today had half of his heart. Rest in peace. May God bless your soul.     Jack
Mike D
Posted 11/20/2006 08:52:56 PM
He was a FOOTBALL player.....move on, there are people dying everyday that did more than him!!!!!
Mike D
Posted 11/20/2006 08:54:08 PM
I always thought he was overrated anyway...remember how bad he looked against the Cowboys in the playoffs his last year???
Posted 11/20/2006 09:09:27 PM
Simply the BEST!  Andre you were the reason why teams feared the Eagles.  No receiver dared come across the middle!  My prayers are with you!  RIP Andre...
Posted 11/21/2006 12:38:36 AM
Between him and Wes, we hardly needed corners. Reggie, Jerome and Andre. God is building a heck of a defense. Long live Dirty Waters
Posted 11/21/2006 03:48:27 AM
I am very impressed with the heartfelt comments being made about the passing of this man. And that is what he was first, before football, a man. I too am going thru some tough emotional times in my life and have to make sure I stay in contact with my friends throughout the day cause I have been taken to the depths of attempted suicide before. These holidays will be rough for lots of people. I understand his pain. I will dread being wished "Merry Christmas" this year. My deepest sympathies to his family and friends, and fans. 
Posted 11/21/2006 12:45:10 PM
In an era of constant apologies by our celebrities and athletes, I reminisce of the player and the man that was Andre Waters. He was my favorite football player. He was my exact size, 5’11" 200lbs. While growing up in Philadelphia, I never heard him embarrassingly utter a phony apology, which is almost a weekly occurrence in sports today.  Football elitists like Dan Dierdorf, would tear him apart on Monday Night Football, local writers would join the cause, and Andre would continue to do, what he did. He intimidated opponents. Yes, he went low. However, not because he was cheap, but because he was undersized. He simply could not tackle most pro players high. He was taught, to go low, and wrap them up. It is what everyone who plays defensive back is taught. It is rudimentary Football knowledge. Ray Lewis does it every day, and he is a "playing" legend. Rodney Harrison has done it his whole career, so have "good guys" like Rondee Barber, and Brian Dawkins. I get the feeling, that if Waters would have wrote a few children’s books, or given housing to some single mothers, he wouldn’t have received as much of the criticism as he had gotten. 
 He came from a small college, and every time he had an opportunity to step up to a "dare to be great" situation, he did. He was much more emotional than most thought. The comments about being a dirty player, and the nickname "dirty waters" did hurt him, but letting his unit down would hurt so much more, so he played the way he played. He took the hits by the national media, and the fines imposed by the NFL. I very rare side of Waters was exposed, while playing for Arizona. A former teammate and very good friend of Waters, Byron Evans, had had a career ending injury, earlier that day.  A reporter entered the locker room after a game, and asked Waters, "have you heard?" Waters asked, "Heard what?" The reporter, already aware that Byron Evans was a close friend of Waters, coldly blurted out that Evans was injured, and his career was probably over. Waters broke down in tears, and looked at the reporter, and asked, "Why did you have to tell it to me like that?" Waters put his head in hands, and sobbed for his fallen ex teammate. He cried for his friend. This was a guy who went out to intentionally hurt players?

Forty four year old Andre Waters, while working as a defensive coach in his home state of Florida, seemingly decided to take his own life in his home, on November 20th. Why anyone would make such a horrific decision, is beyond me, especially someone like Andre Waters. Whatever was going on inside his head, reached much deeper and farther, than anyone anticipated.  He was after all, just a man, with the same human problems, as everyone else. As a man, I recognize his weaknesses, but the kid in me, only remembers the player. The gutsy guy who always showed up, and never let down. When he was on the field, you always felt like your team had something, that the other team did not. He had speed, but knew the angles. He once chased New Orleans saint wide receiver, Eric Martin off the field in 1991after a game, and never apologized for it. The NFL handed him a 7,500 fine. 
Waters took his lumps, and just shook his head at the media and league attention his playing drew. I never thought Andre Waters to be a dirty Football player, he just played the game the way many NFL players wanted, they just were not able to.  

Mike Cassell

Tom Norton
Posted 11/21/2006 03:18:47 PM
Reggie White was the heart, Jerome Brown was the soul and André Waters was the Guts of the Eagles Defense.  

Like Vince Papale, André was a hero to the regular guys that love to watch him hit and hurt an opponent every Sunday afternoon at the Vet.

But most of all, André was a good man that gave back whenever and wherever he could. He will be sorely missed.

God be with you #20  
Gregg Bartels
Posted 11/21/2006 06:28:05 PM
I loved that guy. He brought it to the house every time he stepped out there. That guy "Walked the Line".He played sports the way old fashioned way.

Posted 11/21/2006 10:39:18 PM
As a nurse at Graduate Hospital I often took care of the Eagles players. Andre was my favorite.  I will always remember him as the only Eagle to get in his wheelchair and ride the halls signing autographs for the patients. He was sweet, kind and very humble despite his fame at that time........ he touched the lives of many patients that day....and mine.  
Mina Glover-Powell
Posted 11/25/2006 10:53:59 AM

I always looked at you as my younger brother, when you would come over to the house and talk to Wendell. You were apart of our family. It was a big shock to us when Wendell called us and told us that you had shoot yourself. My children didn't really know who you were, until they saw you on TV.
I have lost my little brother, and friend. Andre you will sadly be missed.

R. I. P.
"#20 THE BEST"
JC McQueen
Posted 11/25/2006 01:40:40 PM
Andre's funeral was today, Saturday, November 25th at 12:00 p.m.  It is my prayer that his family and friends used it as an opportunity to celebrate Andre's life and that they were able to appreciate how much he blessed others while he was here.  Maybe those who loved him will choose to enjoy their life and make it the best life they can live to the glory of God.
Linda Everett
Posted 11/26/2006 03:26:04 PM
Yesterday, I had to say goodbye to my dear friend. Andre will always have a special place in my heart and I will miss his lovely smile and all the advice he has given me. Sleep on friend take your rest I love you, but god loves you the best. See you one glad morning ANDRE.

Miss you much.
Ethel Jones
Posted 11/26/2006 11:32:25 PM
Strenght to family and friends. 
Andre wil be sorely missed. 
Posted 11/27/2006 12:10:40 AM
I would like to send my prayers and condolences to Andres family.  I have lost a college classmate and I know I speak for everyone in the Cheyney family, we are deeply saddened by his death.  He will be missed.
Posted 11/27/2006 05:25:35 AM
On behalf of the Cheyney family, our hearts go out to Andre and his family. All of his worries are behind him now. Keep the loving memories in your thoughts, to help guide you through this tragic loss.  Andre will be missed by all that he came in contact with, but never forgotten.
Tom Digney
Posted 12/11/2006 09:19:47 PM
Andre: you were the reason I was an Eagles fan. My condolences to the Waters family. 
pam basco
Posted 12/29/2006 06:12:47 PM
I had the honor of dating Andre in the 90's when he was with the cardinals. Even though we did not work out, he will always have a place in my heart. He was a good father to my children and a wonderful thoughtful and caring man. We should not dwell on the way he died, but on how he lived. He gave so much of himself and asked for nothing in return. The world and NFL family has lost a great man and player. just remember Andre, no matter where you are I will always love you. Rest in peace.
Posted 01/16/2007 09:45:48 AM
Whatever it was that troubled you so here on earth, I pray your spirit has found peace and solitude in the arms of your Lord.

Loved watching you play...


Tom Goering
Posted 01/18/2007 03:55:18 PM
I will always remember Andre telling me to pull Randal Cunningham out of a basketball game played against Camden High saying, "he can't play anyway and we can't see him get hurt." Rest in peace my friend.
viola Johnson
Posted 01/25/2007 11:11:26 PM
i would like to thank everyone for their kind words and memories of my cousin Andre.i'm amazed at how much he is still loved and amired and i'm sure he would be too.i was very angry with Andre when i heard what he had done, i thought  how could he? how selfish,don't you know how many lives you're affecting? but, now i do understand, according to test results done from Andre's brain tissue, his brain was severly damaged due to his football career, which he loved so much.i'm so happy that that test was done because i just couldn't understand why someone with so much to give and live for would take their own life and better yet someone related to me!
the pathologist said he would have been incapacitated in another 10 to 15 years, i know he wouldn't want to live that way...i wouldn', Andre,i forgive you and i'm sorry i didn't attend the funeral, it was to difficult for me, i had just lost my husband only a year ago and i'm sure you'll see him if not already.i know you were upset with me for not attending the last family reunion and now this year you won't be there...well, not physically.
i miss u cuz
Posted 02/03/2007 07:51:28 AM
im not going to lie i was young growing up watch dirty waters and i am a giants fan but he used to hit harder than ronnie lott although nowadays he would get kicked outta the nfl for some the stuff he did i still think thats the damn game of football im 22 and i know bye the time im old enough to watch the games with my son we wont see heavy hitters like that ever again RIP "dirty waters" u were the last of the heavy hitters 

DJ Andrews
Posted 02/07/2007 04:59:40 PM
I remember my first year playing football at Cheyney University.  Andre was a senior at the time however he was one of the people who encoruaged me the most.  He told me after my first practice "You are going to be one good football player."  

Football was his dream and I remember once his senior year was over, he was unsure of what would happen next.  He told me and several of his friends that something has to happen because football is the only thing he wants to do. He was picked up by the Phila Stars and then the league folded.  He was then selected  late round free agent for the eagles.  I remember him saying that all he needed was  the opportunity. He unquestionably made the most of it.  

He was always a funny and wild guy, however he was a role model for many of us who came after him.  He will be missed and I am glad to have known him personally and to know that he is one of the few people who realized his dreams despite the mountain of odds against him.  God bless you my brother and rest in peace.