William James Wade (born October 4, 1930 in Nashville, Tennessee) is a former professional American football quarterback. He is best known for being the starting quarterback on the Chicago Bears' 1963 NFL championship team. Born in Vanderbilt Hospital, he 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.
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.
"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.
"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.
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.