- - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It must have been hard for Washington Redskins fans who watched the press conference last weekend announcing that former general manager Bobby Beathard – the architect of the franchise’s three Super Bowl championships – would be inducted into the team’s Ring of Fame this fall at Fed Ex Field.

It must have been like looking directly into the sun – you want to look, but you fear the damage it may do, like seeing visions that aren’t there.

It was hard to look at Bobby Beathard and not see Scot McCloughan.

Remember, mama told you not to look into the eye of the sun.

Beathard came to Washington in 1978, following the George Allen era, and took the Redskins to heights they had not been since the days of Sammy Baugh. Times spent as a perennial contender that won multiple league titles.

The Redskins went to three Super Bowls during his tenure from 1978-88, and the foundation for the fourth one in 1991 was built by Beathard. During his 11 seasons in the front office, the Redskins averaged 9.5 wins per year, with a record of 105-63, best in the NFC in that period. No team had a better postseason record – 11-3 – than the Redskins during that era of play.


SEE ALSO: Training camp observations: Greg Toler ‘forgotten man’ of Redskins’ secondary


Scot McCloughan? He hasn’t done any of that. His team won nine games in his first season as Washington’s general manager last year.

Yet observers were willing to connect the dots from the Super Bowl general manager to the guy who has been in town for just one season, and has one NFC East title to show for it – not fans, but players who were part of the Beathard era.

Bobby knew exactly what he was looking for in a player,” said Redskins Super Bowl quarterback Joe Theismann, who was not brought to Washington by Beathard but became the full-time starting quarterback in Beathard’s first season in 1978. “He knew exactly what he was looking for a player. There were certain types of players that were a part of our football team.”

And then he makes the leap – unassisted, unprompted, looking right into the eye of the sun.

“I compare it to what Scot is doing here,” Theismann said. “As a matter of fact when I look at this Redskins football team, it harkens back memories of what we were in the 1980s. What Scot is doing is similar to what Bobby was doing – building the franchise looking forward. Bobby had a unique understanding of players, but not the type of players who would get the headlines. He would go find those hidden gems. I look at this team now and I draw comparisons to what Bobby was doing in the 1980s. Bobby and I had a great relationship. He was fair and knew exactly what he wanted for this football team. He had a vision of what he wanted to do – like Scot has.”

Theismann is not alone. Former Redskins defensive tackle Darryl Grant, who was scouted and drafted by Beathard, sees the similarities with McCloughan.

Bobby was a great guy,” Grant said. “He scouted me. A super guy. We still talk several times a year. He was a scout at heart. He had an eye for talent and an eye for hustle. I see comparisons with Scot. I like what I see from Scot, hand-picking the guys he wants to get good things done.”

ESPN 980 talk show host Rick “Doc” Walker, who Beathard brought to Washington in 1980, joined the party.

Beathard is the reason why I wound up in Washington,” Walker said. “He was so approachable, and you knew he was so knowledgeable. He picked smart people. You can’t win with guys with bricks for brains. He understood that. I always admired what he looked for in a player and the results he got. He was so accessible. I never looked at him as an executive.”

Who else is like that?

“He does remind me of Scot, with his particular style,” Walker said. “McCloughan is very clear, big, physical tough football players, smart, passionate about the game. Both had been around successful operations other than here. Beathard was doing his thing before he came here. So did Scot. They’ve been around success.”

There is one reason why it is so easy to look at Beathard and see McCloughan: we haven’t seen a real GM for this team since the days of Beathard and his successor, Charley Casserly. Vinny Cerrato was a court jester – and he wasn’t very good at that. And if you want to count Bruce Allen’s tenure during the Mike Shanahan era – and his one disastrous year on his own after Shanahan was fired – have at it.

The connection between Beathard and McCloughan could simply be the professionalism of what we expect from an NFL general manager.

There are other similarities. Like Walker pointed out, both had been around success before arriving in Washington. Beathard was director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins from 1972-77. McCloughan was vice president of player personnel and general manager of the San Francisco 49ers from 2005-10. He later served as senior personnel executive with his friend and Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider, until they mutually parted ways in 2014.

But Beathard was a surfer. McCloughan has struggled personally in the deep water. It is a big difference that right now makes the vision of seeing McCloughan when looking at Beathard blurry.

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