Wade Wilson, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback coach, has sadly passed away on his 60th birthday. Wilson died on February 1 at his home in Coppell, Texas. The Cowboys announced, via Clarence Hill Jr., Wilson’s passing in a statement. Wilson’s cause of death has not been made public. Wilson and the Cowboys parted ways in 2017. During his time with the team, Wilson was credited with developing Tony Romo and Dak Prescott. The coach played a key role in the drafting of Prescott.
Wilson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 1981 and led them to three playoff appearances in 11 years with the team. He was released in July 1992 by the Vikings as part of a rebuilding program. During his playing career, Wilson also suited up for the Falcons, Saints, Cowboys and Raiders. In 1995, Wilson served as Troy Aikman’s backup quarterback during the team’s victorious season. After his retirement from playing, Wilson was an assistant coach at both the Chicago Bears and Cowboys.
Wilson is survived by his four children, Travis Wade, Hayden and twins, Coleton and Sophie.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Dak Prescott Said in 2019 that Wilson Had a Profound Influence on Him
Dak Prescott recalled a story to CBS Sports in January 2019 about an interaction he had with Wilson. Wilson was the quarterback coach when Prescott was drafted. During a conversation, prior to Prescott joining the Cowboys, Wilson asked, “I’ll never forget the question. He asked me, ‘How would you handle being a black quarterback but being the face of the Dallas Cowboys?'” When Prescott responding by saying it didn’t bother him, he pondered Wilson’s question and said the coach “was letting me know that as much as I don’t see it, it’s still there.”
2. Wilson Said He Would Have Retired if the Cowboys Had Come in for Him in 1995
Wilson was a native of Commerce, Texas, graduating high school in the town. Wilson lettered four years at East Texas State University where he was an NAIA All-American and Lone State Conference MVP as a senior. Wilson first served as a coach with the Cowboys between 2000 and 20002 before returning as quarterback coach in 2007, along with Jason Garrett. Wilson Is one of the few players to have suited up in the NFL past his 40th birthday.
When Wilson joined the Cowboys in 1995, two years after he picked the Saints over Dallas, he told the Associated Press that he would have retired if America’s team were not interested in him. Wilson said of being Troy Aikman’s backup, “If you’re going to be a backup, you might as well back up the best.”
3. Wilson Had a Toe Amputated Due to Diabetes Complications in 2016
Wilson had a toe amputated in 2016 after an infection caused by diabetes complications. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported at the time that Wilson was hospitalized during pre-season training. The newspaper said that Wilson had his second toe amputated and was seen around training in a walking boot in the aftermath. Wilson told the Star-Telegram, “I had an infection and it kept getting worse. It was driving me crazy laying in the hospital bed. I said let’s get rid of that thing. I’m good now. I’m doing everything I did before.” Wilson added that as a result of the surgery he was going to start taking better care of himself because he wanted to be a “positive role model.”
4. At the Time Wilson Was Fired by the Cowboys, He Was Referred to as Being ‘Well-Liked & Respected’
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram was the first to report that Wilson had been fired in 2017. The article referred to Wilson as being “well-liked and respected.” His firing was speculated to be related to Jason Garrett wanting to take the team in a different direction. Wilson was fired at the same time as secondary coach Joe Baker.
5. Wilson Was Fined a Third of His Salary in 2007 for Purchasing Human Growth Hormone
In 2007, Wilson was fined a third of his salary, $100,000, and banned from five games for purchasing human growth hormone. Wilson told ESPN at the time that he was not aware that the ban on the steroid applied to coaches as well. If found guilty of distribution of the drug, Wilson would have been banned from the NFL for life. He added his belief that a “double standard” had been applied to him with regard to Bill Belichick, who at the time had been fined $500,000 over the spying affair.