Dr. Keely's wooden Indian, for many moons a fixture at the top of the stairs leading to the Redskin Park offices, has run a pattern 30 yards left to a spot near John Kent Cooke's quarters, perhaps waiting for the executive vice president to whisper, "Suit up, Chief, we need you on second and long."
To give the Super Bowl champions more room for those big rings and big contracts, the Redskins have remodeled the house George Allen built. There's a new weight room with mirrored walls to answer the questions of who's fairest of them all. There are new team meeting rooms and new coaches' offices.
But everyone, even Chief, has the same old worries. In this pro football business, you're only as good as your next day's work. To have won the Super Bowl means only that 27 other teams now wish a safe would fall on your head. So a visitor stepped around moving boxes in Bobby Beathard's office--decorated in Early United Van Lines style--to ask the general manager how it felt to have a safe bounce off your eyebrows.
Beathard and Joe Gibbs fired their second-round draft choice yesterday. They botched this one good. Agreed, it is a greater crime by far to sneak in front of old people in the Giant express lane. But when you're the Super Bowl champions, folks expect you to be infallible. Missing on a second-round pick is the stuff that made the New Orleans Saints the team they are.
Before we go another step, understand this: Bobby Beathard's hands ripped the clay out of the earth with which Joe Gibbs, his chosen artist, created a masterpiece. The 1983 Super Bowl champions were Beathard's, who is a scout by instinct and general manager by title. Of 53 Redskins last year, 31 were hired in 1981 and '82. And Beathard saw, before anyone else, that this unknown fellow, Joe Gibbs, would make a coach. He only had to hire him someday.
All that came to pass in as memorable a season as the Redskins will ever have, but, as Gibbs said the other day, it is time to "put memories of the past behind us." For the moment, we need look at what Bobby Beathard has done lately--and even he admits it was no fun to cut Richard Williams, his second-round draft choice from Memphis State.
"It's disappointing," said Beathard, who a year ago cut a third-round choice, wide receiver Carl Powell, saying, "We blew it."
"There's nobody to blame but us," Beathard said yesterday. "We just made the wrong decision."
The Redskins believed Williams could be the third back behind John Riggins and Joe Washington. Not many other NFL people thought so highly of a fellow who twice had broken his right leg. He was used only moderately as a senior, carrying 89 times for 480 yards.
But every prospector, seeing a glint in the sun, believes there is gold in them rocks. Like all his breed, Beathard lives to find that hidden prize. A lot of people liked the Redskins' No. 1 pick, Darrell Green. Williams would be Beathard's sleeper this year, as Mat Mendenhall had been the undiscovered lode of 1980.
Mendenhall was the first of Beathard's surprise high draft picks, chosen in the second round although he played only three games as a senior (ruptured appendix). With Mendenhall choosing to leave camp after losing his starting job this summer, the Redskins thus have lost two No. 2s and a No. 3 in the last four drafts.
Yet any reading of Beathard's drafting shows he has done as remarkable a job as the Cowboys or Steelers ever did. They did it longer, of course, but Beathard's track record suggests the Redskins can sustain success long enough to do what the Cowboys, for one, have never done: win back-to-back Super Bowls.
Beathard in six drafts has chosen 55 players; 19 are on today's roster, and 11 of them are first-team players.
From the 1981 draft alone, the Redskins' answer to the Cowboys' great 1975 draft, Beathard chose Mark May (1), Russ Grimm (3), Dexter Manley (5), Larry Kubin (6), Charlie Brown (8), Darryl Grant (9) and Clint Didier (12). In addition, Beathard that year traded his No. 2 to Baltimore for Joe Washington.
In his six seasons, Beathard has used every tool in the general manager's box to restore a proud old building whose roof beams sagged under the weight of neglect. For fully seven seasons, Allen's last six and Beathard's first, the Redskins had no 1-2-3 draft choices. There lies the path to dusty death.
So Beathard made 43 trades with 20 teams. He has acquired 35 players and 27 draft choices at a cost of 12 players and 33 draft choices. Of the current players, three came by trade.
With 19 players drafted, that leaves 27 free agents on today's roster. Even when some free agents are Joe Jacoby, Mike Nelms, Jeff Hayes and Curtis Jordan, such a high number means the Redskins have room to grow.
Beathard's job on arrival five years "was an overall strengthening," he said. "We just picked a good football player. Now it's more patch and strengthen. We can pinpoint different positions now where before it was everywhere."
Consider this: three years ago, the Redskins and Cowboys last opened a season at RFK on Monday night. Of those 45 Redskins, only 13 are on today's roster. Only two offensive starters and four defensive starters are the same. Joe Gibbs then was anonymous and people wondered about Bobby Beathard, who was, after all, no George Allen.