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."
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.