Charlie Waters is a former Dallas Cowboys Strong Safety. He played for the Cowboys from 1970 to 1981. During his time with the Boys, he went to five Super Bowls and won two of them. He possessed a broad spectrum of athletic ability, with a combination of speed, strength, and good hands that made him a powerhouse in nearly any position – and how. Coach Landry was no stranger to his versatility; arguably it was his greatest asset on the field. But it wasn’t the only thing that made him a Dallas Cowboy. What was it that had Charlie predicting plays before they ever happened? Why did Tom Landry seem to like him so much? And how’d he play the entire 1973 season with a broken left arm? 

Charlie’s story begins in South Carolina, where he rolled through high school and college as a baseball and football athlete. He found himself seemingly blessed with a set of good hands, and he flexed between quarterback and wide receiver, breaking a handful of college records along the way. So it came as no surprise when the Green Bay Packers wanted to draft him – that is, until The Dallas Cowboys got to him first. But that wasn’t the only surprise life had in store for him – Cowboys VP of Player Personnel Gil Brandt personally called him up on the day of the draft to let him know he’d been picked as a Defensive Back – a position Charlie had never even played! 

Fortunately, Charlie was a quick study, and he picked up the position without much trouble. Though he did have a few run-ins with a certain undrafted free agent named Cliff Harris, who began to develop a friendship with Charlie that would last for generations. But back then in 1970, Charlie was still a small fish in an NFL-sized pond, and he had a lot to learn before he’d be making tackles and scooping interceptions on the starting line. 

But fate had a funny way of dealing Charlie Waters a pretty good hand, and soon he’d be transferred to cornerback. And much to the surprise of Head Coach Tom Landry, Charlie rebounded off the new position in the best way. He learned everything he could, and combined his knowledge of the quarterback, receiver, and safety positions to make him a regular encyclopedia when it came to game knowledge. Which happened to work out great when it came to calling plays early in the 1975 Cowboys-Vikings Hail Mary game. 

Not too long after that, he got transferred to Strong Safety, where his chemistry with Cliff finally began to flourish as the two busted heads in what became one of the most dynamic duos in Tom Landry’s patented defense. And that wasn’t the only place Charlie found success – he also found it off the field when he met his soon-to-be-wife Rosie Holotik, who he married in 1980 (and spoiler alert – they’re still happily married all these years later). So with good looks, good games, a solid position with the Dallas Cowboys, and his whole life ahead of him, everything was coming up Charlie. What could go wrong? That’s this week on Episode 9 of A Cowboy Life. 

Guests featured on today’s episode include: 

Cliff Harris, Former Dallas Cowboy Free Safety #43

Show Notes & Links:

  1. Want to know more about Charlie Waters? You got it! Check him out here.
  2. What about Cliff Harris? We’ve got him too! Here’s the link you’re looking for.
  3. Didn’t you guys already cover Cliff in a previous episode? We sure did! Here’s a link to our episode about ol’ “Captain Crash” himself from just a few weeks ago.
  4. Where can I get a copy of Charlie’s book? You can get yourself a copy of “Tales from the Dallas Cowboys” right here, courtesy of
  5. Wait a second, was Charlie really on a ‘70’s Beefcake Poster? Oh yeah. Get yourself a look at the goods right here (and don’t worry – it’s safe for work).

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