Bobby Beathard had a hand in building seven Super Bowl teams over his NFL career, but the championship-winning squads he put together in Washington were the gold standard. Over 11 years as general manager, Beathard’s Redskins made three Super Bowls, winning two, with rosters carefully crafted by the Hall of Fame executive who died Monday at the age of 86.
“To me, Bobby Beathard was the single greatest evaluator I’ve come across,” former NFL executive Bill Polian once said.
Here’s a look at Beathard’s five best moves in Washington.
— Trading Washington’s 1982 first-round pick to the Rams: At a time when first-round picks were treated as precious commodities, Beathard bucked conventional wisdom by being more than willing to trade them away for a coup of assets. From 1978 to 1988, Washington made only three first-round selections under Beathard.
Beathard’s finest move in terms of dealing first-round picks might have been when he sent Washington’s 1982 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for a third-round pick in 1981, two fifth-round picks in 1981 and a 1982 second-round pick. That trade paved the way for Washington to draft Hall of Fame guard Russ Grimm, who was taken with the third-round selection that belonged to the Rams.
— Drafting Gary Clark: Beathard used every avenue to find talent in the NFL. Whether it was signing left tackle Joe Jacoby as an undrafted free agent in 1981 or taking a late-round flier on quarterback Mark Rypien (1986), Beathard could identify players who weren’t registering on the rest of the league’s radar.
The best example of that might be Clark — the receiver the Redskins took in the second round of the supplementary draft. Clark was a little-known player in the USFL for the Jacksonville Bulls, but went on to be a four-time Pro Bowler. Clark, Art Monk and Ricky Sanders made up The Posse, Washington’s iconic trio of receivers.
— Drafting Darrell Green: A well-known — but still wild — fact is that Beathard was responsible for drafting three Hall of Famers in Washington. Green, a first-round pick in 1983, was arguably the best of the bunch. Green played a total of 20 seasons, all with Washington. He’s regarded as one of the best cornerbacks of all time — known for his speed and ability to shut down opposing receivers.
Less known is that in 2008, Beathard admitted to ESPN that if Dan Marino — picked one selection before Green — was still on the board at No. 28, the Redskins would have selected the Hall of Fame quarterback instead — despite just winning the Super Bowl with Joe Theismann. But Green proved to be a heck of a consolation prize.
— The 1981 draft: Is one draft technically one move? OK, maybe not — but we’ll skirt the rules in this case because of how insane Washington’s 1981 draft was. Just look at some of the names taken by Beathard in this class: guard Mark May was selected at No. 20, Grimm at No. 69, defensive end Dexter Manley at No. 119, wide receiver Charlie Brown at No. 201 and defensive tackle Darryl Grant at No. 231. Then, as mentioned, the Redskins added Jacoby as an undrafted free agent.
In 2017, ESPN ranked Washington’s 1981 draft as the 14th-best class of all time. And the group served as the foundation of Washington’s Super Bowl run. The Redskins won their first Super Bowl to cap the 1982 season. It wouldn’t have been possible without the draft from the year prior.
— Hiring Joe Gibbs: Beathard’s eye for talent went beyond players. The general manager’s hire of coach Joe Gibbs was the most important of his tenure, luring the then-unknown offensive coordinator away from the San Diego Chargers in 1981. As Beathard told, the executive had to sell owner Jack Kent Cooke on the hire. It turned out to be the right one.
When Beathard was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018, Gibbs was his presenter.
“We were together so long, I think he knows more about me and what I did in football and I know more about him,” Beathard said in a 2018 video. “He was just kind of a natural. … We had a great relationship.”
• Matthew Paras can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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