FOXBOROUGH, Mass.—Brian Waters had a chance to sign with several teams after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs. He chose the one without a lot of "knuckleheads."
The New England Patriots.
The five-time Pro Bowl player fit smoothly into the Patriots' vacant right guard spot after signing eight days before the season opener. On Monday night, he will face the team he spent his other 11 NFL seasons with.
"I don't think it will be one of those overemotional deals," Waters said Friday. "I'm happy where I am. I'm sure they're happy with the players they have. I just want to win a football game."
He figured his best chance to win a lot of them was with the Patriots. He worked with their coaching staff and several of their players at two Pro Bowls and was impressed by their dedication to approaching the game the right way.
At age 34, he didn't want to be part of a rebuilding program.
"The guys here treat this football thing like it's supposed to be treated, a lot of professionals here," Waters said. "Even the young guys. They give you a lot of inspiration to come in here and know that you don't have a lot of knuckleheads in this locker room."
He and the Chiefs parted ways by mutual consent on July 28, three days after an agreement to end the lockout was announced. He waited another six weeks before signing with the Patriots.
Waters said he enjoyed having time off. And he had several options to consider.
"I talked to a number of teams," he said. "I was just looking for the right situation for me. I could have went to a lot of places and dealt with some different things, as far as young teams trying to rebuild. And I really didn't want to deal with that.
"I wanted to deal with a team that I knew was going to be professional and a team that I knew had a chance to be a good football team."
He chose wisely. The Patriots lead the AFC East with a 6-3 record and have an easy schedule the rest of the way, with just one opponent currently having a winning record.
Waters already was familiar with Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, who coached him at two Pro Bowls.
"He's definitely a tough guy," Waters said.
And he knew his number at Kansas City, 54, was worn in New England for 13 years by highly respected linebacker Tedy Bruschi.
"It's my number today," Waters said, "but we all know in New England who the real 54 is and I take that with pride."
He and Bruschi played together for the AFC Pro Bowl team after the 2004 season.
"I asked him a couple of questions about how you guys win so many games in a row," Waters said. "How do you prepare? What kind of mind state were you guys in to be able to do that? So he gave me some great info."
Now Waters sees that approach up close under coach Bill Belichick, an all-business leader with little tolerance for mistakes.
Waters hasn't made very many after filling the starting spot of Stephen Neal, who retired after nine seasons with the Patriots. That's not easy to do at a position that requires outstanding coordination with the other linemen.
"It takes a special guy," Belichick said. "We can all go out there and play together, but to actually play well and be able to pass things off like you have to do on the offensive line and be able to communicate and see things the same way, that takes a lot of work, a lot of interaction, a lot of communication, a lot of trust.
"You have to trust that the other guy is going to be there to do what he's supposed to do so you do what you're supposed to do."
Waters credits the other linemen with easing his transition.
"They've done a great job, especially early on," he said. "Those guys (were) being really patient with me."
The Chiefs were 0-3 in playoff games during Waters' 11 years with them. In that same period, the Patriots were 14-5 with three Super Bowl championships.
Would a title this season convince Waters, who rarely has been injured, to retire healthy and spend more time with his family?
"I'm not saying that," he said with a laugh. "I'm not even thinking that far. I'm really happy about the fact that I'm in an environment where it really is `in the now.' Work on the now and that stuff will take care of itself."