Bobby Beathard was named general manager of the Washington Redskins yesterday to begin what team President Edward Bennett Williams described as "the greatest talent search to strengthen this football team in the history of the NFL."
Beathard, 41, the director of player personnel for the Miami Dolphins the last six years, signed a multiyear contract believed to be in the $75,000-a-year-range.
In announcing the hiring of Beathard, Williams detailed several other key changes in the club's front office, as well as a major shift from George. Allen's policies of trading draft choices now, worrying later, Allen, the former coach and general manager, is now coach of the Los Angeles Rams.
"If I had to opt now for a choice," said Williams, "I have to believe the real foundation of a professional football team lies in the draft."
Williams said Mike Allman, the team's the director of college scouting, will be promoted to director of personnel. Bobby Mitchell, formerly director of pro scouting, will become Williams' executive assistant and Kirk Mee, and assistant coach/scout under Allen, will become director of pro scouting.
On the administrative side, Joel Margolis, the business manager, and Dick Myers, listed as an administrative assistant general managers.
The Redskins now are loaded with talented personnel men who will have to twiddle their thumbs through the first seven rounds of the 1978 draft. At the moment, the Redskins have only five picks, in rounds eight through 12. In 1979, Beatnard can select in the first round, but picks in the second through sixth rounds are gone.
"But we're looking for improvement in the next two years." Beathard said. "Wee don't have to get worse to get better. We'll explore any avenue that's open to strengthen the team through trades, draft choices and the waiver list."
Beathard's selection raised several eyebrows around the NFL. The talk of the league had Al LoCasale, and executive assistant for the Oakland Raiders, coming to Washington. Beathard, who resigned from the Dolphins three weeks ago in a dispute with owner Joe Robbie, was reported heading to Buffalo.
But league sources said yesterday LoCasale had had reservations about how authority would be divided between the general manager and Coach Jack Pardee.
Williams indicated he thought Beathard and Pardee probably would "be a better mix. I like Al, he's a very capable man and I wish him the best. We had to look at this as a whole. We had to put a team together, and I believe this is the best possible team we could have."
LoCasale said yesterday "the parameters of the general manager I have in mind did not really match the structure the Redskins envision for their organization. My background and training came under three very strong general managers, people who excercised the principal authority. That's all I'd really like to say about it."
Williams said he settled on Beathard because "when I looked over the other teams . . . the operating heads were either converted PR men or converted personnel men. The people who were the most successful were the people in personnel."
"As I interviewed people, went over the people who had been recommended to me, Bobby Beathard emerged as a person who could not be surpassed for evaluating talent."
Williams said Beathard and Pardee will have "co-equal power in trading, and in the even there is a disagreement there, it will be resolved by the president. But I will remain in the background." Beathard also will be in charge of the draft, signing player contracts and, according to Williams, have "all the regular duties of the general manager.
Asked if he had any thoughts on trading veteran quarterback Kilmer, Beathard said it was too early to make any decisions on the status of players now on the roster.
But Pardee made it clear he would not tolerate anyone trying to "persuade players to leave the club." That remark was a reference to published comments by Allen that he would be interested in taking some of his former Redskin players to the Rams.
Pardee added that he was not saying Allen had been recruiting his former players, but simply saying. "I don't want him to I also don't want Don Shula, Bud Grant or anyone else interfering with our players."
Pardee said he welcomed the addition of Beathard because "Bobby's proven you can bring in people who can contribute right away. And we have to get better at a lot of positions." Pardee said his main areas of concern were improving the secondary and backfield, and "we'd like to have competition for every job."
'I don't think we have to take drastic measures with this team," he said, "but you do have to bring in new blood, let you younger players make the older players better. Competition motivates older players.
"The older guys are going to have to work harder. When you get to that age, you have to do a lot some to play this game. I'm a great advocate of long-distance running, and I'll talk to these guys about that. Sure we want them to worry a little. It makes everybody more competitive."
Beathard has always excelled in talent - hunt competition with rival personnel men around the league. In the drafts of 1974 through 1976, 19 of the 20 players Beathard picked for Miami in the first six rounds were on the Miami roster in 1976. Last year, eight Beathard draft picks made the squad as rookies, including rookie of the year defensive end A.J. Duhe.
Dolphin Coach Don Shula said yesterday he had spoken several times to Williams about Beathard and "I gave him my strongest recommendation. Bobby's an excellent man. He knows what's going on around the league, and he'll be a great asset to the Redskins."
In a sense, Beathard is rejoicing the Redskins. He was signed as a free-agent quarterback in 1959, but was not a factor against the likes of Eddie LeBaron and Ralph Guglielmi and was cut.
Beathard played college football at Cal Poly, played briefly for the Los Angeles Chargers in the old AFL and spent six years scouting for Atlanta and Kansas City.
He is a divorced father of four with a low pulse rate. He has competed in several marathons and, according to Williams, is contractually guaranteed a day off in April to run 26 miles, 385 yards in the Boston Marathon.