Once upon a time, the Washington Redskins had a 10-year run that included more than four Super Bowl appearances and three Lombardi trophies; it included a Hall-of-Fame general manager (Bobby Beathard) and a Hall-of-Fame coach (Joe Gibbs), too.
Now, that’s not all that unusual. Bill Polian and Tony Dungy made it to Canton. So did Tom Landry and Tex Schramm. And so did John Madden and his de facto GM, Al Davis, former owner of the Raiders.
But Beathard arrives 22 years after Gibbs (1996), the coach he hired in 1981 and who brought life to a franchise that hadn’t won a playoff game since 1972. So how did the two make it work? Easy, said Beathard on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast.
“We had a simple agreement,” said Beathard, elected to Canton in the Class of 2018. “I get the players and you coach them. And he never interfered with the scouting, and I certainly didn’t interfere with the coaching.
“But we would get our boards all lined up before the draft, and in those days you had tapes and films of all the players. And we’d let each position coach … give them films or tapes of the players we really liked and looking at … and get their opinions, too. So we’d put it all together so we could put the players in the right rankings on our draft board.”
It worked so well that Beathard’s first first-round draft pick … and Washington’s first first-rounder in 12 years … wound up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Wide receiver Art Monk. So did Darrell Green and Russ Grimm. And undrafted free agent Joe Jacoby, who was signed out of Louisville, was a Hall-of-Fame finalist the past three years.
Beathard later went to San Diego and made linebacker Junior Seau his first draft pick. Seau was elected to the Hall of Fame three years ago.
Beathard’s signature was hitting on late-round draft picks and acquisitions through trades, and he worked both so well that Washington won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks — none of whom is in the Hall of Fame — and three different star running backs.
“Every place I’ve been I know you have to work closely with the coaching staff,” Beathard said. “I worked with one coach … it didn’t last long … but (he) didn’t want the opinions of scouts. He only wanted to hear coaches. And I said, ‘That’s just not the way it works.’ But every place I’ve been that we’ve had success, they work well together.”
Beathard’s arrival at Canton was tempered by news that Jacoby, who was in his 20th — and last — year of eligibility as a modern-era candidate, failed to make the first cut to 10 among the 15 finalists. His candidacy now moves to the senior pool, where far too many qualified former players wait for their names to be called.
“I was really disappointed,” Beathard said of Jacoby. “I couldn’t believe it. I thought if Joe doesn’t make it, why would I make it? He’s special. I know a lot of the guys that have made the Hall of Fame, and Joe certainly deserves to be in there.”