Tom Waddle is a player of football lore, who proves that if you have the tools and can stick with it, you can make it in the NFL. Waddle was an acclaimed receiver for the Golden Eagles of Boston College. With great hands and excellent ability to cut on the fly running routes, it was thought that with his stellar numbers, at BC (finishing 3rd All-Time receiving) he’d sneak into the 1989 draft. As we all know, the 1989 NFL draft was an incredible draft from top to bottom, and despite it still being a 12 round draft, Tom did not hear his name called. Undeterred, Waddle signed a free agent contract with Mike Ditka’s Chicago Bears.
The Bears were pretty set at receiver with Wendell Davis, Ron Morris, Dennis Gentry, and Dennis McKinnon all in front of Waddle. He got in some garbage time as a punt returner and receiver over the next two years, and managed to hang on until he really got his break in 1991. By the 1991 season we were looking at a vastly different Bears team. The offense was going through major growing pangs converting to a more pass friendly environment with Jim Harbaugh at quarterback. Runningback Neal Anderson and a good portion of wide receiver corps were decimated by injuries, so Tom got his shot on a Monday night game- and didn’t look back….
He’d end up starting 13 games in 1991, and make 55 grabs for 599 yards and 3 touchdowns in 1991. Teams saw that he was fearless trying to make the catch, and made sure to put a licking on Waddle, but he always managed to get his smelling salts, and return right back into the game. Tom recorded career highs in receiving yards in 1992 (with 674 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns on 46 receptions), and followed that up in 1993 with 44 receptions for 552 yards and a touchdown despite a changeover with Dave Wannastedt becoming head coach. In 1994, Tom was demoted to 3rd string and injuries (concussion, leg) began to take their toll on him. He finished the season starting only 1 contest, but came off the bench still to post 25 receptions for 244 yards and a touchdown. Waddle signed with the Bengals after the season but retired soon there after.
Always a Chicago fan favorite, even after retirement, Tom works radio in Chicago both for ESPN and Fox, and has also done some time as a color and in studio broadcaster for both college and professional football.
G/Gs 60/41 Rec 173 Yds 2109 Avg 12.2 Td 9 Lg 68