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Sacco Sez: Former Bronco Bob Wade stands tall


Generally speaking, playing professional football would be the ultimate goal for a young athlete, the highlight of the individual's athletic career.

It is rare when playing in the National Football League becomes a footnote to one's achievements in athletics, but that is certainly the case for one-time Denver Broncos defensive back Bob Wade.

A native of Baltimore, Wade played his college football close to home, at Morgan State University, and then he played three years in the NFL.

Wade played for Pittsburgh in 1968, Washington in 1969, and then migrated "way out West" to play the 1970 season for the Broncos.

That was a memorable year for me, as I graduated from college, got married, and joined the United States Army.

But I remember Wade as well, a hustling cornerback who also played special teams for the Broncos, even intercepting one pass, which he returned for 10 yards.

That was the end of his playing career, but hardly the end of his achievements in athletics.

Wade returned to his native Baltimore and put his college skills to work, teaching and coaching at the high school level.

And that was a quiet beginning to a great career.

Perhaps basketball fans by now have caught on to the fact that Bob Wade, little-remembered Broncos defensive back, was also Bob Wade, USA Today High School Boys' Basketball Coach of the Year in 1983.

Wade coached the legendary basketball program at Baltimore's Dunbar High School from 1975-86, and in that decade he produced an astonishing record of 272-24, with Dunbar's teams often ranking in the nation's top 10.

In his two best seasons, he not only taught life lessons to young students and players, but from 1981-83 Wade put together teams that produced a 60-0 record. USA Today ranked the 1982-83 team first in the nation that year.

Not only did his Dunbar teams play against the best, they actually were the best.

Wade's 1981-82 team produced four future NBA players. Three of them became first-round draft picks, including future Boston Celtic Reggie Lewis. And to show the greatness and depth of Wade's program at Dunbar, Lewis, a future captain for the Celtics, was the sixth man for Dunbar!

Wade taught his students and players that heart, focus, team play and great values were better than size, and perhaps the coach's greatest example was 5-foot-3 Tyrone Bogues, better known to basketball fans as "Muggsy." Muggsy Bogues went on to have a 14-year career in the NBA despite being the shortest player in league history.

Bogues gives much of the credit for his career to people to helped him along the way, and Bob Wade stands tall on that list for his great work with young people at Dunbar.

Wade's decade of high school coaching was one of the great ones in preps history, and it is most remarkable to think that he himself began his career as a defensive back at Morgan State, and finally with the Broncos, before setting national marks at Dunbar in his hometown.

Bob Wade stands tall as one our former Denver Broncos players who went on to more greatness after the NFL than during it, and mastering the challenge of accomplishing all this in an entirely different sport.

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