RICHMOND — Bobby Beathard remembers the meeting vividly — a baffled owner questioning his decision to hire an unknown coach.
Beathard eventually convinced his boss, Jack Kent Cooke, that Joe Gibbs was the right man for the job to rebuild the Redskins in the early 1980s. That fateful move to trust his gut led to an unprecedented run of success for the organization — four Super Bowl appearances in 11 years and three titles.
For all his success, Beathard will become the 49th person inducted into the Redskins’ Ring of Fame during the team’s annual “homecoming” game against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 13 at FedEx Field. Washington team president Bruce Allen made the announcement on Saturday morning.
“I was in the NFL a long time with different teams, but our favorite memories are certainly here because when we were with the Redskins our kids were growing up here, went to high school in Virginia, went on to college in different places,” Beathard said.
Beathard was hired as general manager by the demanding Cooke in 1978 and stayed 11 seasons until the two sides parted way. He had been part of winning organizations in Kansas City as a young scout, and he was an executive in Miami. In all, Beathard worked for teams that went to seven Super Bowls and won four of them.
That doesn’t even include the 1991 Redskins. By then Beathard had moved on to his next challenge as general manager of the San Diego Chargers. But a team that Charley Casserly, his former top assistant, helped construct went 14-2 and rolled through the playoffs to another championship that season.
“[Beathard’s] resume is more than impressive,” Allen said. “He’s been with seven different Super Bowl teams in his career and, obviously, is the architect of building the Washington Redskins.”
Beathard remembered wanting to move on from coach Jack Pardee after the 1980 season. Their philosophies didn’t match. But Gibbs was a relatively unknown assistant with the Chargers and Beathard wanted to hire him. Cooke wasn’t impressed.
“Joe Gibbs? Who in the hell is Joe Gibbs?” Cooke thundered in a meeting with Beathard. “We announce a guy named Joe Gibbs and they’ll crucify me.”
Cooke relented, though not before calling the two men on the carpet after Gibbs’ first team lost its first five games in 1981. The Redskins eventually clicked and started winning. The next season they were Super Bowl champions. Beathard and Gibbs would occasionally go to meet with Cooke, but by then the owners’ tone had changed.
“Joe, you’re the coach I always wanted!” Cooke would say to the two men, according to Beathard. “I told Bobby to get Joe Gibbs. I don’t want you to screw this up. We’ve got to get Joe Gibbs here.”
Beathard laughed: “It was a story I always liked,” he said.
Beathard left the Redskins after the 1988 season and finished his career with 11 more seasons in San Diego, constructing a team that went to the Super Bowl in 1994.
Washington went 105-63 in Beathard’s 11 years (.625 winning percentage), the second-best in the NFL during that time frame. The Redskins also won 11 of 14 postseason games during that era.
Allen noted that owner Dan Snyder called Beathard to tell him the news on the second day of the NFL draft this past spring.
“I got here and it was something I was anticipating would be a tough job,” Beathard said. “But then when I learned about the Washington, D.C. area and the fans that the Redskins have I thought ‘This will probably be the most fun I’ll ever have in football.’”
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