Bobby Beathard, who led the San Diego Chargers to their only Super Bowl appearance as part of a Hall of Fame football career, has passed away at the age of 86.
Beathard died Monday at his home in Franklin, Tennessee, according to a spokesman for the Washington Commanders, one of Beathard’s former teams.
“Bobby was who we all want to be – a kind, caring, giving, thoughtful human being who brought people together from all walks of life,” Chargers owner Dean Spanos said in a statement Wednesday. “He was the best GM in football, but he was also the guy who sat on the surfboard in the ocean that caught waves, jogged the trails, and chatted in the checkout line at the local market.”
Beathard was known for his scouting acumen. Voted into the Hall of Fame in 2015, former Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts GM Bill Polian called Beathard “the greatest evaluator I’ve ever come across.”
Beathard served as the director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins for two of their Super Bowl victories and spent 11 seasons (1978-88) as Washington’s GM. The team went to the Super Bowl after the 1982, ’83 and ’88 seasons, winning twice.
He was hired by the Chargers in 1990, tasked with rebuilding a run-down franchise that had failed to make the playoffs in seven seasons.
Beathard’s first pick as GM of the Chargers was Junior Seau, the USC great who took fifth overall to San Diego in 1990. Like Beathard, Seau ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Beathard was inducted as a contributor in 2018, the same year he made the Chargers Hall of Fame.
The Chargers made the postseason during Beathard’s third season in San Diego. Two years later, they advanced to Super Bowl XXIX, a 49–26 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. It remains the franchise’s only Super Bowl appearance.
Beathard was born in Ohio before his family moved to El Segundo as a boy. He attended El Segundo High School and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for a brief professional career. Beathard remained a resident of San Diego well into his retirement. He was an avid bodysurfer and a five-time age group champion at the Oceanside World Bodysurfing Championships.
Spanos said on Wednesday that Beathard was “an ordinary man who was anything but”.
“In fact, Bobby was exceptional,” Spanos said. “He was one of a kind. And he will be incredibly missed.”
Beathard is survived by his wife, Christine, and several relatives. His grandson, CJ, is a Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback.