Bobby Beathard was a daring independent thinker who did it his own way


When Bobby Beathard stepped foot in the building, he often graced the room dressed in shorts and flip-flops. Not your typical garb for an NFL GM.

Beathard by all accounts was different in every way, a renegade amongst his peers who took pride in thinking and strategizing independently.

He also won differently, too, more than any other GM in the 1980s, establishing a dynasty with the Redskins that would outlast his time there. Two Super Bowl titles to his name with the Redskins and one shortly after his departure.

Charley Casserly, a longtime scout for the Redskins whose time in Washington preempted Beathard's, still remembers those years fondly. Casserly would take over as Redskins GM when Beathard left for San Diego after the 1988 season.

"He was a likeable guy. You could see that," Casserly recalled to The Sports Junkies. "He treated everybody the same. He was very open. He wanted involvement by everybody which, it was not quite that way before. If you were at the bottom of the totem pole, you're gonna get the worst schools and how much input you're gonna have was questionable."

"But with Bobby, he was very inclusive," he said. "He was a great family man. He wanted the scouts home every weekend, which was not the case in the NFL. You'd go out for a couple weeks, and Bobby didn't believe in that. So that was a big change and that was all positive on that part. But his letting you all be involved, having total input into the draft process. He made the decision, we all knew that, but he'd listen to everybody and I think that was important."

Beathard was a fierce believer in family and collaborating with his coaches and scouts, hallmarks of the dynasty he would build.

"It was the openness and inclusivity that he brought that I believed in and he sold me on," Casserly said. "And it's not the case in a lot of organizations."

Now THAT is a damn good culture.

What eccentricities separated Beathard from others? Casserly recalls when his first spring scouting trip under his new GM took him to Eastern Kentucky to watch a highly rated prospect.

"What did you think?" Beathard asked the scout.

"Bobby, I don't like this guy," Casserly replied. "But he's got these high grades."

"Forget the high grades," Beathard returned. "What do those people know?"

It was that independent thinking which set Beathard apart from the rest of the league. Casserly added: "Forget about what everybody else sees, what do you see?"

"He made a lot of daring trades," Casserly said. "He'd trade a one for a future two. He didn't care about that. He'd sign players. He didn't care what other people thought. He took Darrell Green when Darrell Green was 5'8" and 169 pounds. He never wavered on that. He would have taken Darrell much higher in the draft if we had a higher pick. He took Charles Mann out of Nevada-Reno and obviously he had a great career."

The Redskins selected Green with the last pick in the first round in 1983 and selected Mann with the last pick in the third round of that same draft. Both went on to become perennial Pro Bowlers and win two Super Bowls with Washington while Green carved out a Hall of Fame career.

In the 1981 draft alone, Beathard selected Hall of Famer Russ Grimm, Mark May, Dexter Manley, Charlie Brown, Darryl Grant and Clint Didier, all of whom became permanent fixtures on the team during the Redskins dynasty.

But perhaps his greatest find came in the hiring of a future Hall of Fame coach, a young offensive coordinator in San Diego who was so unknown that it took Beathard some serious convincing of then-Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke to bring Gibbs aboard in Washington.

"Ernie Zampese, who was a great friend of Bobby's, was on the staff with the Chargers, and he really liked Joe Gibbs," Casserly said. "And I don't know if Joe ever had another head coaching interview before the Redskins one. But he was a champion of Joe Gibbs."

"Jack Kent Cooke didn't know Joe Gibbs," he said, "so Joe Gibbs had to go into that interview and Bobby had to sell him and, most importantly, Joe had to sell him. Which he did. And Joe had an excellent set of coaches he wanted to get. Jack Kent Cooke wanted to support him, told Bobby, 'You go get those coaches and don't come back without them.' And when Mr. Cooke said that, you didn't come back without them, believe me. But Bobby went and got them, which wasn't easy."

"And he had the support of course of the Cookes," he continued. "But that was the beginning of an era right there, the hiring of Gibbs, the hiring of that staff."

Gibbs went on to win three Super Bowls with the Redskins... with three different quarterbacks.

"He had an excellent eye for talent," Casserly said of Beathard. "I mean as for if there was a certain position, no. I think he was good at all positions. But he had a conviction on it and he didn't care what other people thought, and his draft board was gonna be his own draft board. I mean we were involved, but he made the decision. But if he felt that somebody should be taken in a certain round, he didn't care what other people thought."

It wasn't until five years before his death that Beathard was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame. Casserly wound up leading the campaign to get him in. In fact, his own organization, then run by Dan Snyder, barely acknowledged Beathard properly before that.

"I thought he should have been in the Hall of Fame before he got in [in 2018]. I championed that cause," Casserly said. "I never understood why he wasn't in the Ring of Honor with the Redskins. That was mindboggling."

Beathard was finally added into Washington's Ring of Honor in 2016.

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