Two former Los Angeles Rams players passed away on Thursday, March 10. Former quarterback Billy Wade died at the age of 85, and defensive end Gary Jeter died at 61.
The Rams drafted Wade No. 1 overall during the 1952 NFL Draft out of Vanderbilt University. He was highly regarded after being named the SEC’s MVP in 1951. He spent seven seasons with the Rams and recorded 8,572 passing yards and 56 touchdowns. Wade also earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 1958.
The Rams later traded Wade to the Chicago Bears, where he earned another Pro Bowl appearance in 1963. That was also the same year that he led the Bears to the NFL Championship. Wade finished his career with 18,530 yards and 124 touchdowns.
The New York Giants drafted Jeter fifth overall in the 1977 NFL Draft out of USC. Jeter was heralded as one of the key contributors for the Trojans. He helped earn them a National Championship in 1974, and a trip to the Rose Bowl in 1977.
Jeter was always present in the backfield creating mayhem for quarterbacks and offenses in general. He truly emerged in 1980, when he recorded three fumble recoveries and made 10 unofficial sacks. Jeter even made the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
Jeter was eventually traded to the Rams, but didn’t make a huge impact until 1985 after suffering from back issues. He earned 11 sacks that year and was even named Comeback Player of the Year. Jeter recorded another double-digit sack year with 11.5 in 1988. He finished his career with the New England Patriots in 1989, and added seven more sacks.