The Pro Football Hall of Fame will formally welcome its Class of 2018 on Saturday. This week, Yahoo Sports is highlighting memorable moments for each member of the eight-man class, leading up to the big ceremony.
Bobby Beathard, 1963-2000
Beathard grew up in El Segundo, California, just a couple hours from where his finest work came to be.
He didn’t play football until his sophomore year of high school in the early 1950s. After a stint at junior college, he had a decorated career at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but went undrafted in 1959. Despite preseason appearances that year, he never clicked with a pro team – as a player.
His first non-playing gig with the NFL came in 1963 as a scout for the Kansas City Chiefs, and he would win his first AFL championship ring there three years later. He went on to scout for the Atlanta Falcons, and then in 1972 was named director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins won the next two Super Bowls.
After that, in 1978, he was awarded with his first general manager position leading the Washington Redskins; he’s largely to credit for the team’s three Super Bowl appearances and two wins under his tenure. It looked like his front-office career was going to end there, as he took a job as an NBC studio analyst, but his finest work was yet to come.
The then-San Diego Chargers suffered a string of mediocre and losing seasons in the mid and late 1980s, then hired Beathard as general manager. Even in his first two seasons, 1990 and 1991, the team went 6-10 and 4-12. But then he hired Bobby Ross to coach the 1992 team, and the tides shifted.
The team went 11-5 that season, making it through the wild-card round of the playoffs. In 1993, the Chargers fell back to .500, missing the postseason. No one expected Beathard’s team to be competitive the following season – Beathard added 22 new players, 10 of whom would start.
The 1994 season kicked off with six straight wins and ended with another 11-5 record, good for the No. 2 AFC seed. Leading that team offensively most of the way: quarterback Stan Humphries, the former Redskins backup.
San Diego advanced to the AFC title game in Pittsburgh and pulled off a shocker, rallying from a 13-3 deficit in the third quarter to beat the Steelers, 17-13.
Super Bowl XXIX between the Chargers and the San Francisco 49ers was expected to be a blowout, with many calling the Niners’ NFC championship game versus their rival Dallas Cowboys the “real” Super Bowl.
That’s what happened as the Chargers were blown out, 49-26, but the real win was getting to play in that game at all.
Beathard drafted, traded for, and mastermind a roster that earned the franchise’s first and only Super Bowl berth, a crowning achievement on a front-office career that saw him take three separate teams to the Super Bowl.
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