Former Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard is finally where he belongs, officially taking his rightful place among NFL legends in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Beathard enters the Hall as a contributor, which is a category created in 2014 for individuals who made "outstanding contributions to professional football in capacities other than playing or coaching." He served as the Chargers general manager for 10 seasons from 1990-00.
Beathard spent 11 seasons as the Washington Redskins' general manager from 1978-88 before joining the Bolts. Under his tenure, the Redskins made five playoff appearances and captured a pair of Super Bowl titles (XVII, XXII).
Thus, the Chargers pounced when Beathard became available, and he changed the course of the franchise forever more.
"In that four-year period of the team, he really changed the dynamic of our franchise entirely," Controlling Owner and Chairman of the Board Dean Spanos said earlier this year. "He was a very good scout, and he put together a great scouting program. That revolutionized our thinking on everything as far as how you approach football. He changed the entire player personnel program and turned over most of the players. Our whole organization changed so quickly. He knew what a winner looked like, as you saw with the Redskins winning those two Super Bowls, and he called upon that to build a really good franchise for us."
Beathard made his presence felt immediately with his first draft choice – Junior Seau. The architect of the team's 1994 AFC champions, he also added the likes of Stan Humphries, Natrone Means and Rodney Harrison among a litany of others.
So, what made Beathard so successful?
Perhaps no one is better equipped to answer that than current Chargers Executive Vice President of Football Administration, Ed McGuire. Beathard hired McGuire in 1998, and the pair worked hand-in-hand for the next three years.
"For a guy who had all the success he had, Bobby had no ego," McGuire said. "He was very humble and treated everyone the same way. He was also very passionate. Bobby was a true believer in the players he was bringing in. He wasn't afraid to do whatever it took to go out and get someone he believed in. And it worked. His legacy is that of going into numerous teams and turning them around. So this is a great weekend. It's great to see him, and it's a well-deserved honor."
Beathard's fearlessness and belief in the players galvanized them as a team.
It's also a driving reason why so many were in attendance on Saturday to witness his special day in person.
"I think he's one of the best GMs of all time," said former Chargers defensive end Raylee Johnson, who Beathard selected with the 95th overall pick in the fourth round of the 1993 NFL Draft out of Arkansas. "He gave me a chance my rookie year. What I like most about Bobby is he liked to take gambles on guys who were not very popular in the media eye and see how they perform in the NFL. He found a lot of guys that way. He gave me the opportunity to have a great career when I didn't have a whole lot of media attention coming out of college. He was really good at putting great personalities together from different backgrounds. I'm really, really happy for him and his family right now."
"After three and a half years of trying to break into the NFL, Bobby gave me my opportunity and my shot to be the guy," added former kicker John Carney. "I'll never forget that he gave me that opportunity. Bobby wasn't afraid to go with a young name or an unknown talent if he felt that that player had the ability to get the job done. Bobby's success is unprecedented in the NFL. What he accomplished with the Dolphins, Redskins and Chargers, different ownerships, different regimes, different coaches; it's unprecedented. Bobby had a great eye for talent and putting the entire package (together): The chemistry of a 53-man roster that could stand the test of time and manage a season and set themselves up for the ultimate goal; playing in the Super Bowl. I love Bobby's style, very laid back, very casual, very friendly, very approachable. And behind all that was a very wise, discerning, experienced eye that continued to create winning teams, players, coaching staffs and matching the right players with the right coaching staff and their philosophy. It was an honor and a privilege to play for Bobby Beathard. Congratulations Bobby, it's a well-deserved honor."