Before there was Joe Gibbs in Washington, there was Bobby Beathard.
When George Allen, who was the Redskins’ head coach and de facto general manager, was let go when his contract expired after the 1977 season, owner Jack Kent Cooke brought in Beathard, who was the director of player personnel for the two-time Super Bowl winning Dolphins, for the GM role. Many fans wondered who the heck he was, just like three years later they didn’t know who the heck Gibbs was.
They all know now. Tonight, Beathard will join Gibbs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Beathard was the general manager of Gibbs’ first two Super Bowl teams and although he had left by the time the Redskins won their third Super Bowl, players Beathard had obtained were key contributors on that team.
Redskins fans may never have learned who Gibbs was if not for Beathard. In 1981, Beathard got the Redskins’ run rolling. First, he hired Gibbs, the offensive coordinator for a Chargers team whose Air Coryell offense was named after head coach Don Coryell, not Gibbs.
A few months later he made off with one of the best draft hauls in NFL history. His first two picks, Mark May and Russ Grimm, became key members of the Hogs. In the fifth round, the pick was Dexter Manley, who is the team’s all-time sack leader. Later in the draft, Beathard picked up WR Charlie Brown, DT Darryl Grant, and TE Clint Didier, all key members of the Redskins’ first Super Bowl team.
Beathard also drafted WR Art Monk in 1980 and CB Darrell Green in 1983. Both of those players played on multiple Super Bowl winners and are in the Hall of Fame.
Monk and Green were drafted in the first round, but those two and May are the only first-round picks that Beathard made in his 12 years in Washington. He loved to trade his first-round picks. Some of the deals, like the one that landed the third-round pick they used for Grimm, worked out well. Others, like the 1987 first rounder that was traded for a 1986 second-round pick that was used for WR Walter Murray, did not work out. Murray couldn’t come to contract terms with the Redskins and he never played a snap for Washington.
However, he obtained the players, the key to Beathard’s success was knowing the types of players that fit in with what Gibbs did on offense and what defensive coordinator Richie Petitbon liked to do on defense. It was often said that the Super Bowl Redskins teams lacked stars but that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. The credit for that goes both to Gibbs, who knew how to motivate his players and put them in places where they could succeed, and to Beathard who found the “characters with character” as Gibbs often called his players.
After two Super Bowl wins, the philosophies of Gibbs and Beathard started to grow apart. Gibbs wanted to push for another Super Bowl with the core group that won the first two. Beathard thought it was time to start rebuilding. On May 5, 1990, about two weeks after the draft, Beathard announced that he was stepping down as the Redskins’ GM. If it was because of a power struggle with Gibbs he didn’t say so at the time.
Beathard went on to become the general manager of the Chargers and helped get that team to its first and only Super Bowl in 1994.
But Beathard will forever be linked to the Redskins regardless of his success before and after his run in Washington. Joe Gibbs will present him for induction tonight.
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