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Bill Wade
Position(s)
Quarterback
Jersey #(s)
9
Born October 4, 1930 (1930-10-04) (age 79)
Career information
Year(s) 19541966
NFL Draft 1952 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
College Vanderbilt
Professional teams
Career stats
TD-INT 124-134
Yards 18,530
QB Rating 72.2
Stats at NFL.com
Career highlights and awards

William James Wade (born October 4, 1930 in Nashville, Tennessee) is a longtime Nashville celebrity and civic leader. He is considered one of the all-time great American football quarterbacks, having been a star in the American Football League and the National Football League. He is also considered one of the greatest athletes in Nashville and Vanderbilt University history. Wade is a member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and the Vanderbilt Athletic Hall of Fame.

Contents

Summary of Some Career Highlights

Wade was a professional quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams and the Chicago Bears. He is best known for being the starting quarterback on the Chicago Bears' 1963 NFL championship team.

Interesting Notes

Wade is a longtime resident of Nashville, TN, and has two sons who still live in Nashville. He was born and raised in Nashville (and was born at Vanderbilt Hospital.) Wade is one of two sons of former 1921 Vanderbilt football captain, William J. Wade, Sr. The younger Wade began his athletic career at Woodmont Grammar School in Nashville, where he played guard rather than quarterback. He later starred at Hillsboro High School and Mongomery Bell Academy.

Early years

The most memorable experience at Woodmont was the first game he would play at Vanderbilt's Dudley Field. His team played another grammar school as the halftime entertainment of a Vanderbilt game. He prepped at Montgomery Bell Academy after receiving a scholarship to the seventh grade.

During his high school days Wade would go over to Dudley Field to throw and kick the football for fun. The 15-year-old kid gained the attention of Vandy's coaches by tossing the ball half the football field. Wade also was a pitcher on the MBA baseball team.

Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt's head football Red Sanders offered Wade a football scholarship; he accepted on the spot. He was practically raised on the campus, witnessing numerous games with his father as a youngster.

"They had put my picture on the cover of Look magazine before the 1949 season started," Wade said. "I didn't play a lot my sophomore season, Jamie Wade (no relation) played more than I did and did a very good job. Red Sanders left and went to UCLA. Our coach was gone and Bill Edwards came down to be the coach."

"We opened up against Georgia Tech with a full house, and I will never forget it. This Look magazine came out right before our first game. There I was on the front of Look magazine with Dot and Peggy Neal. Both of them were from Atlanta though they were in Vanderbilt. The crowd kept yelling at me, 'Hey glamour boy.'"

Concluding his collegiate career, Wade was named the SEC's Most Valuable Player and a second team All-American. He was also MVP of the 1951 North-South Shrine Bowl game in Miami. Wade also played in the Senior Bowl of 1952 and was selected to play in the College All-Star game in Chicago.

Wade was named to the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class.[1]

Professional career

Wade's postseason performances caught the attention of the NFL scouts. It has been widely acclaimed and published that Wade was the first round pick of the Los Angeles Rams, but that is not correct according to Wade.

"In 1952, I was the Rams 'bonus draft choice,'" Wade explained. "There is no such thing as a bonus draft choice any more, but at the time the professional football teams would put their names in a hat, and they would draw for a bonus draft pick for each team before the actual draft. There is no bonus draft pick today."[2]

After the 1960 season, Bears defensive assistant George Allen realized that to compete with Vince Lombardi's Packers required more offense. He had spent one season on the Rams' staff and was impressed with Wade. He talked Coach Halas into trading Zeke Bratkowski to the Rams for Wade for the 1961 season. Wade quarterbacked the 1963 Bears title team.

References

  1. ^ "Vanderbilt Athletics Announces Inaugural Hall of Fame Class". Vanderbilt University. 2008-06-26. http://vucommodores.cstv.com/ot/2008-hof.html. Retrieved 2008-06-26.  
  2. ^ All quotes from an interview 8/25/2004, "Bill Wade: Vanderbilt Football Legend" with Bill Traughber, a Vanderbilt historian.
Preceded by
Norm Van Brocklin
Los Angeles Rams Starting Quarterbacks
1958 – 1960
Succeeded by
Zeke Bratkowski
Preceded by
Zeke Bratkowski
Chicago Bears Starting Quarterbacks
1961-1964
Succeeded by
Rudy Bukich
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