Bobby Beathard's election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last week was a bittersweet moment.
Coupled with the excitement of joining a prestigious class of NFL players, coaches and general managers was the realization that Joe Jacoby -- Beathard's prized and undrafted find that became the foundation for the Redskins' decade-long run -- wouldn't be joining him in the final year of his eligibility.
"I was really disappointed," Beathard said recently on the Talk of Fame Sports Network. "I couldn't believe it. I thought, if Joe doesn't make it then why would I make it? But he's special. I know a lot of the guys who've made the Hall of Fame and Joe certainly deserves to be in there, in my opinion."
The case for Jacoby has been made numerous times – on this website and many others – but Beathard went into more detail into why the Redskins never drafted Jacoby, a Hall of Fame finalist three years in a row who will now become a senior candidate to receive a golden jacket.
Beathard made clear that Jacoby was on the team's draft board but felt they could wait to snag him since they didn't hear rumors of other teams wanting to take him. Beathard's expertise was drafting overlooked players in the later rounds and he had a good feeling team around the league didn't value Jacoby the way he did.
"And we thought, we can wait a little while for Joe Jacoby," Beathard said. "But we really liked him. In fact, if we had drafted Joe in the second or third or fourth round, we'd have been happy to get him, but you put all the information together before the draft, you hear rumors, you hear everything, but we never heard Joe's name. And going back up to his school, talking to their coaches, it just didn't seem like there was a lot of interest. But we liked him. And then when our offensive line coach, when [Joe] Bugel worked him out, he was sold on him…and if you have a coach like Bugel, Bugel does a lot for a player. I bet Joe Jacoby would give Bugel a lot of the credit for his success."
Beathard also had an eye for coaching talent, and a large part of his legacy is tethered to finding Joe Gibbs. That began with a conversation between Don Coryell and Ernie Zampese, both coaching with Gibbs in San Diego. They each separately vouched for Gibbs and told Beathard he was ready to become a head coach.
Former Redskins general manager Bobby Beathard has been selected for the Pro Football Hall Of Fame's Class of 2018.
"I had already had in my mind I was going to pick Joe, but I just wanted to hear it from Ernie, who I trusted his judgment, and certainly Coryell's too," Beathard said. "So when they both said that, I didn't need anything more."
Throughout Gibbs' tenure under Beathard, the two handled their jobs and didn't stray into each other's lanes.
"We had a simple agreement," Beathard said. "I got 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 all the tapes and the film of all the players, we'd let each position coach, give them films or tapes of the players, we really liked and were looking at and get their opinion too. So we put it all together to put the players in the right rankings in our draft board. I think you have to work, at least every place I've been, you have to work closely with the coaching staff. I know there are places, I worked with one coach that didn't last long, that didn't want the opinion of the 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 wasn't in Minneapolis when he was told of his election into the Hall of Fame. Instead of waiting for President David Baker to give a knock on his hotel door, Beathard's wife Christine received a phone call from Baker, who congratulated the long-time general manager while he was surrounded by his grandchildren.
"I think to have a guy like that as a member of the Hall of Fame is a real statement," Baker said on the night of his election. "And I think it's a great statement about the Redskins."