Brian Waters, who went from an unknown tight end to a five-time Pro Bowl guard and NFL Man of the Year with the Chiefs, announced his retirement from football on Tuesday.
Waters, 37, spent 2000-10 with the Chiefs and was part of one of the league’s most prolific offenses in the early 2000s. He started for New England in 2011, earning another Pro Bowl berth and played briefly for his hometown Dallas Cowboys in 2013.
“It’s time to move on,” Waters told The Star from his home in Dallas. “I’m going to spend time with my family right now.
“I wouldn’t trade anything about my career. The years in Kansas City were great. We accomplished a lot. We obviously didn’t make it to the Super Bowl or give our fans a playoff win either, but we had some good football teams, some exciting football teams in my time, and we put out a lot of effort out there.”
Waters was part of an offense that included Pro Football Hall of Fame left tackle Willie Roaf, Hall of Fame finalist Will Shields at right guard and future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez. The line helped running back Priest Holmes set an NFL record with 27 rushing touchdowns as the Chiefs went 13-3 in 2003 but lost in the playoffs to Indianapolis.
“That was probably one of the most underrated offenses in the history of the game,” Waters said of a unit that also included quarterback Trent Green, wide receiver Eddie Kennison, center Casey Wiegmann, right tackle John Tait and fullback Tony Richardson. “The numbers we were able to put up … we definitely had a great ride there.”
Waters was so dominant that he was voted AFC offensive player of the week — a highly unusual award for a lineman — after the Chiefs scored an NFL-record eight rushing touchdowns in a 2004 game against Atlanta. In 2004, Waters and Shields formed the first tandem of Pro Bowl guards from the same team since Dallas’ Larry Allen and Nate Newton accomplished it in 1995.
“The three best guards I ever played against,” Hall of Fame defensive tackle Warren Sapp said, “were (Hall of Famer) Larry Allen, Brian Waters and Will Shields.”
Waters reached the Super Bowl in his one season with the Patriots in 2011 but New England lost to the New York Giants.
“The risk I took by leaving Kansas City,” he said, “was a hard decision, but at the end of the day, ending up in the Super Bowl five months later definitely was rewarding and worth the risk I took.”
Waters sat out the 2012 season but returned and appeared in seven games for Dallas last year, the first at Arrowhead Stadium against the Chiefs. Waters suffered a season-ending triceps injury on Oct. 27 at Detroit, which turned out to be his final game.
“It was definitely great to be back, but it was hard being in Kansas City and on the opposite end of the field,” Waters said, “but when I thought about coming back, it was definitely on my target to get back for the game in Kansas City.”
Waters broke into pro football as an undrafted tight end from North Texas by the Cowboys in 1999 and was picked up by the Chiefs, who converted him to guard and sent him to the Berlin Thunder of the World League in 2000.
In 2001, he made seven starts at guard and one at center, by the 2002 he was starting left guard in an offense that led the league in scoring and ranked second in offense.
Waters followed Shields’ lead in the philanthropic community and earned the 2009 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which combines off-the-field community service and on-field success. His Brian Waters’ 54 Foundation provides opportunities for underprivileged children and low-income families and college scholarships in both Kansas City and his native Waxahachie, Texas.
“That was more about having an opportunity to have a platform and using it in the proper manner,” Waters said. “Just trying to do my best to help others throughout my career.”
Waters, who was on the board of directors of the NFL Players Association during the 2011 lockout and participated in the negotiations with the owners for the new collective bargaining agreement, will continue his work for the union.
“That’s one of my ongoing passions, and I try to do the best I can to try and help the players as much as possible,” Waters said.