Looking back you can credit the 2013 season as being the turning point for the transformation of the Great Blue Sieve of Dallas into what is starting to be the second generation of the Great Wall of Dallas. Tyron Smith was settling in to his third season as a member of the Cowboys plus Ron Leary and Travis Frederick were experiencing their first season as professional linemen. Leary was technically in his second season although his rookie year had been essentially a red-shirt season. Also in place was the man who had been brought in to be the quick fix to keep Tony Romo upright and make sure the running backs had holes to run through. That player was Brian Waters, one of the greatest offensive guards of his generation.
Jerry Jones doled out $3 million dollars to lure the Waxahachie native back into uniform and around Cowboys nation fans could not have been happier. The team had finally come to its senses and brought in some high-level talent that would solve the problems up front while also schooling the kids for the future. Things looked bright. As soon as he was able to get into playing shape Waters was inserted into the starting line up. The quick fix did not last long. Waters career came to a close following an injury sustained against the Detroit Lions. His playing days were over, but his impact on the Dallas Cowboys would remain.
"He's done a lot, maybe as much as anything else, it's his demeanor. He's a guy that plays the game the right way. He's physical, he's tough, he knows what to do, he plays with a little bit of an edge to him -- and that's a positive thing. I've talked to our team about it -- it's contagious." - Jason Garrett
His stay in Dallas was short, so Brian never really had the impact that fans hoped he would. His presence and mentoring role for the younger offensive linemen turned out to be his greatest contribution to the squad. Though he played only seven games for the Cowboys the lessons he shared have lasted much longer. Each time Smith, Leary, and Frederick take the field there is a little bit of #64 in their back pocket. As Coach Garrett stated, Brian Waters' style of play was contagious. It carries on to this day in his proteges.
My colleague, Tom Ryle, had this to say about Waters shortly after Dallas acquired his services:
Let's just say when Waters talks in the offensive line meetings, people will listen. On the field, the young players will be seeking to emulate him and absorb as much as they can. There is a reason his accomplishments are sometimes referred to as his credentials, since they convey a huge amount of credibility to him.
As Pineywoods so correctly noted, the Brian Waters tenure in Dallas would be felt for years to come no matter how brief the time turned out to be. It was shorted than any of us expected, but perhaps in compensation the benefits are becoming more than we could have ever imagined.