It is hard to argue with the results of Tom Waddle’s post-football career. The gritty former receiver, who played with the Bears from 1989-1994, now is in his third decade in broadcasting.
The “Waddle & Silvy Show,” with co-host Marc Silverman, continues to post strong ratings from 2-6 p.m. for WMVP-AM 1000. Waddle continues to spend his weekends in Bristol, Conn., analyzing the NFL through this Sunday’s conference title games on ESPN‘s various platforms, including “SportsCenter.” Several times, the network also has used him as a panelist on its Sunday morning “The Sports Reporters” show.
Waddle, 48, has long since demonstrated the ability to discuss a greater range of sports topics than just football. In fact, his versatility, not to mention an engaging personality, has made him arguably the most successful of the many popular Bears players who have attempted to work in media dating back to the 1985 Super Bowl team. Going back even farther, Waddle is up there with Johnny Morris (1958-67) and Mike Adamle (1975-76) as former Bears who have had a profound impact on the Chicago broadcast scene.
“I’ve worked with a lot of former athletes, but nobody works harder than Waddle,” Silverman said. “You see how he prepares for everything, and how he wants to get better. He’s constantly bringing the energy. (On Mondays), he’s doing ‘Mike & Mike’ (ESPN Radio‘s morning show based out of Bristol at 6 (a.m.) and then he’s live for our show (in Chicago). Who else does that?”
Early on, Waddle realized he needed to have coherent thoughts on baseball, football, hockey and more. He didn’t want to be typecast as just a football guy.
It isn’t as easy as it sounds, and as former Bears long-snapper Patrick Mannelly showed, it isn’t for everyone. Mannelly walked away from a host role at WSCR-AM 670 in February because he didn’t have “the passion” for sports other than football.
“I talked to Patrick, and I thought he was great at it,” Waddle said. “But if you want to do this line of work, you have to have a passion about more than just your sport. You have to be able to spray to all fields.”
Waddle was able to develop his radio persona thanks to stability in working with two hosts. He spent 10 years with David Kaplan at WGN-AM 720. At WMVP, he is in his ninth season, and second in afternoon drive, teaming with Silverman.
Silverman says the differences in their personalities have enhanced their chemistry.
“He’s the former Chicago athlete and I’m the sports nerd who wanted to be that Chicago athlete,” Silverman said. “We always embrace how different we are. It has been a positive for us.”
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