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Vanderbilt Football Legend Bill Wade Passes Away at 85

The one-time SEC MVP led the Chicago Bears to an NFL Championship in 1963.

ABC Television

Bill Wade, the gold standard for Vanderbilt football players, passed away on Wednesday. He was 85 years old.

Wade went 26-16-1 in his college career and played on a 1950 Commodore team that was ranked as high as 13th in the AP poll. He was named the SEC's Most Valuable Player in 1951 and was the No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick in 1952. He spent seven years with the Los Angeles Rams and led the league in passing yards in 1958.

After seven seasons in LA, he was traded to the Chicago Bears in 1961 and remained an impact player in the latter stage of his career. In 1962, no one attempted or completed more passes than the former Vandy quarterback. In 1963, he led the Bears and their Monsters of the Midway defense to the NFL Championship. Wade accounted for both of Chicago's touchdowns in the 14-10 victory.

Though Wade's impact on Commodore athletics waned as the years since his retirement grew, his Nashville campus still held a special place for him. Wade was one of the inaugural members of the Vanderbilt Athletics Hall of Fame. He also earned a spot atop our Mount Rushmore of Vanderbilt Sports.

Bill Wade was a superstar for a program devoid of them and an alumnus we could all be proud of. He will be missed.