Former Clemson star hopes to be playing in Kansas City next season
Sammy Watkins admitted the road to Super Bowl Champion was not an easy one for him.
After a stellar Clemson career, Watkins was drafted No. 4 overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2014. After a promising first two years in which he caught 125 passes for 2,029 yards and 15 touchdowns, injuries began to stymie his NFL career.
From 2016-2019, Watkins could not stay off the injury list, as one nagging injury after another kept him sidelined. In his third year at Buffalo, his numbers dropped to 430 yards and two touchdowns on 28 receptions, all career lows.
“I have just been through so many tough times,” Watkins admitted on the NFL Network after he and the Kansas City Chiefs rallied to beat San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV Sunday in Miami.
Before the start of the 2017 season, Watkins was traded to the Los Angeles Rams, where again, he struggled to stay healthy. However, he did catch eight touchdowns when he was on the field, though he caught just 39 overall passes for 593 yards.
In 2018, Kansas City signed Watkins, but again, he suffered more injuries and caught just 40 passes for 519 yards, while scoring just three touchdowns. Some started to wonder if Watkins was going to be a first-round bust because he just could not stay healthy enough to play an entire season.
But things turned around this year at Kansas City, especially in the postseason. Watkins played in 13 regular season games and caught the most passes (52) and had the most yards (673) since his second year in the league.
In the postseason, he turned it up another level, catching 14 passes for 291 yards, including five receptions for 98 yards in Super Bowl LIV.
Watkins said his recent success is credit to Kansas City head coach Andy Reid, who never stopped believing in him even when others did.
“He is a good dude, and it is not like the other [coaches I played for] are not good dudes, but he told me the plan that he had for me and he was going to revive my career. That is a guy that always had confidence in me,” Watkins said. “I had injuries and ups and downs when I got here, and this man literally gave me the faith. He always jolted me, he lifted me up and he really worked my tail off.
“He is one of the best coaches in this league because he really drove me every day. He is one of the hardest coaches and one of the best coaches. He wants the best for everybody out there. I love him. He revived my whole career. He is going to go down as a hall of fame coach. I am so thankful and blessed to have that guy in my life.”
Playing with renewed confidence, Watkins made perhaps the play of the Super Bowl when he did a double move on All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman and got himself open on the outside of a 38-yard gain to the 49ers 10-yard line with 3:44 to play. That set up the game-winning touchdown three plays later, a Damien Williams’ 5-yard reception from Patrick Mahomes.
“Shout out to [Green Bay’s] Devonte Adams,” Watkins said. “I watched him beat him on the post and beat him inside. Richard Sherman does not want you to beat him outside. He is one of the best cornerbacks in this league. But I felt like I had an easy release inside, I took advantage of it and Pat just connected on a great play. He was too close to me and I just pitter patted the line in play. I just played fast and depended on my speed and physicality and I made one of the biggest plays in the game.”
Like he said, Watkins’ postseason performance, which included a game-clinching 60-yard touchdown catch in the AFC Championship Game against Tennessee, revived his NFL career. Though he joked around with reporters last week in regard to his future in the NFL, he says he is going to be playing somewhere in the NFL next season and preferably with the Chiefs.
“I just played around with it. Life is a game, so why not play with it,” Watkins said jokingly. “I love this team and I love this organization. I am a young guy and I will not sit out. That is not my motive. When the media comes and asks you crazy questions, sometimes you throw out crazy things. I am coming back, and I will be ready and prepared to win another one. That is my motivation. I am too young to sit out.”
Get your official national championship and Fiesta Bowl champs gear right here!