With his blond pageboy haircut, the lean physique of a marathon runner, and the laid-back presence of a California surfer from childhood, Mr. Baerthard didn’t fit the archetype of a professional team executive. bottom. He refused to wear a tie and sports his jacket, and his everyday attire of shorts and jogging his shoes or flip-flops, let alone a suit, gave him a certain easygoing affability. .
However, its appearance was misleading. He was a master of sports management and a skilful negotiator, whose unflinching demeanor masked the intense preparation and uncanny intuition of many young athletes’ promises.
During his nearly 40-year NFL career, his teams (mostly the Miami Dolphins, Washington, and San Diego Chargers) won 10 division titles, 7 conference championships, and 4 Super Bowls.
As head of scouting for the Miami Dolphins from 1972 to 1977, he worked with the coaches. Don Shura To build a dolphin dynasty. In Beesard’s first season with the team, the Dolphins went undefeated to the Super Bowl.
With Beesard as talent coordinator, Shula led the Dolphins to a 63-21 record and two Super Bowl trophies during Beesard’s six seasons in Miami. The team lost 6–1 to him in the postseason.
“He’s an amazing talent,” Shura later said. Said Washington Post. “No one has a perfect record and they will make mistakes. I found innocent children who were never afraid to take risks.”
His years in Washington from 1978 to 1988 were central to his legacy and cemented his reputation as a peerless talent scout. Lesser-known, he hired NFL assistant Joe Gibbs as his head coach, and the Super Bowl saw him make three appearances, winning it twice, in his decade that formed one of the league’s premier franchises. By the end of his tenure in Washington (the team is now known as the Commanders), Sports Illustrated dubbing Bearsard is the “smartest man in the NFL.”
the same year as the new head coach when he arrived in Washington Jack Purdythe team relied on lingering veterans of the so-called “Over the Hill Gang”, who were the backbone of the lineup under recently resigned head coach George Allen. Despite a record of 6 wins and 6 losses, Baerthard did not see the practice as an effective long-term strategy and told team owner Jack Kent Cook to build the team around younger players, against Purdy’s wishes. advised to build
“I have decided to stand by Mr. Bearthard’s future winning plan,” Cook told the Post. His record of 6 wins and 10 losses in 1980 was the team’s worst record ever. Purdy was fired in a harsh conclusion to the standoff. By then, Washington had also not made the playoffs in four years.
A few weeks after Purdy’s ouster, Beesard sought to revitalize the franchise by bringing in Gibbs, the San Diego Chargers’ offensive coordinator. Mr. Bearthard had to sell the inexperienced Gibbs to the skeptical Cook.
“There’s one man, and he’s the right man. I’m sure of it, but you’d have to believe me. I said, ‘Joe Gibbs.’ He said, “Who the hell is Joe Gibbs? I’ve never heard of him. I kept telling him, ‘You gotta trust me.’
When Gibbs started his first season in 1981 with a five-game losing streak, there was great discontent among Washington sports fans. But Baerthard never wavered in his support for the unproven new coach. The following season, under Gibbs, the team won the Super Bowl.
In an era before the internet and sophisticated metrics, Mr. Baerthard was celebrated for his instinctive talent-spotting skills. “Bobby Beathard changed the way people viewed players,” longtime NFL beat writer and columnist Clark Judge said in a 2022 interview for this obituary. It wasn’t just stuff, he had an intuition and was able to give people opportunities that other people wouldn’t.”
He built a talent-finding network across the country, making him known to college players who might be NFL-ready. Also avoided drafting his first-round picks and traded them to stockpile later-round picks in the draft. He believed there was a surplus of good players that others missed by taking to the road, usually alone, and watching them play in person.
During his years in Washington, he used only three of the team’s first-round picks. In 1983 Super Bowl his championship team included his 26 free agents signed by Mr. Bearthard.
“Bobby can tell if a guy is a player beyond 4.4 times or a 39-inch vertical jump,” said former All-Pro Los Angeles Rams running back and friend John Arnett in 1988. told Sports Illustrated in 2014. Or take a tape and measure your jumps. This is what 90% of people do. We all knew Bobby would find a guy who was really competitive because he was so competitive. ”
In the 1981 draft, Mr. Bearthard selected future professional bowlers in later rounds, including guard Russ Grimm, defensive pass rusher Dexter Manley and wideout Charlie Brown. That same year, he signed undrafted lineman Joe Jacoby, a four-time Pro Bowl selection.
When he used first-round picks, Beesard found the likes of receiver Art Monk and cornerback Darrell Green, both Hall of Famers, and Pro Bowl offensive tackle Mark May. rice field. May, Grimm, and Jacoby were key members of the famous “Hogs” offensive his line, which made him one of the best offensive lines in NFL history.
Asked by the Canton (Ohio) Repository about his intuition, the former college star of Cal Poly University, Baerthard said: Whether he loves the game, plays it, or watches it. I don’t know what it was. ”
Bearthard left Washington for San Diego after the 1988 season, but Washington won the Super Bowl again in 1992 with the Bearthard-era players. He made the only Super Bowl his team in San Diego (now the Los Angeles Chargers) lost in the 1995 game.
As the third general manager to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018, Beesard was introduced by Gibbs, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame 22 years before Beesard. “In the NFL, it’s the Super Bowl,” Gibbs said. “The bottom line is if you hire Bobby Beesard, you can win the Super Bowl.”
Having successfully spotted football talent, Beesard committed one of the biggest draft debacles in NFL history when he picked quarterback Ryan Leaf for the Chargers in 1998. Leaf said he was out of the league within three years and was later convicted of burglary and drug charges. An NFL documentary declared him the “No. 1 Draft His Bust” in NFL history.
“I’ve never seen a player in my career with so much talent and so little of it,” Baerthard told ESPN.
Robert King Bearthard Jr. was born on January 24, 1937 in Zanesville, Ohio. His father ran a tile factory and his mother was a homemaker. At the age of four, his family moved to El Segundo, California, near Los Angeles. Their home was half a mile from the Pacific where Bobby enjoyed surfing and swimming. By age 11, he had won a shelf full of swimming medals, but football was where he excelled.
As a sophomore at El Segundo High, he became the first single-wing tailback and received a football scholarship at Louisiana State University despite his relatively petite height of 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds. Before the season started, he became homesick and returned to California, where he enrolled at the Camino Junior College for a year.
At Caltech in San Luis Obispo, he started quarterback and defensive back in the 1957 and 1958 seasons, during which the team went 9-1 every year.among his teammates John Maddena future Hall of Fame NFL coach and broadcaster.
In 1981, Madden told The Post: lots of guts.
Beesard’s younger brother, Pete, also became a star quarterback for the University of Southern California, leading the Trojans to a national title in 1962. He continued his football career professionally.
Undrafted upon graduation, Bobby Beathard signed with Washington as a free agent but did not last long. and worked in the western states. Kansas City found him one, 19 out of the season he played 13 seasons with the Chiefs and was only inducted into the Hall of Fame. , was Jan Stenerd.
Beginning in 1968, he signed with the Atlanta Falcons and traveled for weeks at a time. That led to his divorce from his first marriage, Lale Rich, with whom he had four children.
In 1978, Mr. Bearsard married flight attendant Christine van Handel. In addition to his wife, survivors include four children from his first marriage: Kurt, Jeff, Casey, and Jaime. His brother; Jacksonville He is a quarterback for the Jaguars He has 13 grandchildren including CJ Beathard. and seven great-grandchildren. Another grandson, Clayton Beesard, was murdered outside a Nashville bar in 2019.
A passionate body surfer and no-nonsense marathoner who clocked an impressive 2:30 best time, Bearsard skipped the meeting to attend a training run. However, football remained his exhausting driving force.
His dedication to the game was graphically demonstrated when he married Van Handel at a friend’s house in Marina del Rey, California. The wedding was delayed as Mr. Beesard and his friends were on her second floor watching an exhibition game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Oakland Raiders.
At halftime, he ran downstairs for the wedding and back upstairs before the marching band left the field.
Hollywood stuntman and close friend Ted Grossman told the Los Angeles Times: “I was just looking back when Bobby was putting the ring on Christine’s finger. Next thing I knew, I was going back upstairs to watch the game.
“I remember Christine saying, ‘Is it always like this?’