Bobby Beathard dies, led Chargers to franchise’s only Super Bowl appearance as GM

Bobby Beathard was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
Bobby Beathard poses with his Hall of Fame trophy in 2018.
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Bobby Beathard led the San Diego Chargers to their only Super Bowl appearance as part of a Hall of Fame football career. He died at 86.


Bobby Beathard, who led the San Diego Chargers to their only Super Bowl appearance as part of a Hall of Fame football career, has died at 86.

Beathard died Monday at his home in Franklin, Tenn., according to a spokesman for the Washington Commanders, one of Beathard’s former teams.

“Bobby was who we all aspire to be — a friendly, caring, giving, thoughtful human being who brought people from all walks of life together,” Chargers owner Dean Spanos said Wednesday in a statement. “He was the best GM in football, but he was also the guy sitting on the surfboard in the ocean that you caught waves with, jogged trails alongside and chatted up in the checkout line of the local market.”


Beathard was known for his scouting acumen. Former Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts GM Bill Polian, voted into the Hall of Fame in 2015, called Beathard “the single-greatest evaluator I ever came across.”

Beathard served as director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins for two of their Super Bowl victories and spent 11 seasons (1978-88) as GM of Washington. The team went to the Super Bowl after the 1982, ‘83 and ‘88 seasons, winning twice.

Bobby Beathard, distinguished alumnus of football factory Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, strolls into the office in a hooded sweat shirt from Princeton.

Jan. 25, 1988

He was hired by the Chargers in 1990, charged with rebuilding a dilapidated franchise that had not been to the playoffs in seven seasons.

Beathard’s first draft pick as the Chargers’ GM was Junior Seau, the USC great who went 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 after that, 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 when he was a boy. He attended El Segundo High School and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo before a brief pro career. Beathard remained a San Diego resident until well after retirement. An avid bodysurfer, he was a five-time age-group champion of the World Bodysurfing Championships held in Oceanside.

Spanos said Wednesday that Beathard was “a regular guy who happened to be anything but.”

“Bobby was, in fact, exceptional,” Spanos said. “He was one of a kind. And he will be incredibly missed.”

Beathard is survived by his wife, Christine, and multiple family members. His grandson, C.J., is a Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback.