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Former Chargers general manager Bobby Beathard is officially taking his place among NFL legends in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Courtesy photo
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Beathard rides into the Pro Football Hall of Fame

The cloth was removed from Bobby Beathard’s Pro Football Hall of Fame bust. Quickly it became clear Beathard’s essence was captured through the impressive piece of art.

Beathard carries his persistent grin and an unkempt mop of hair, making him look as if he just exited a surfing session at Beacon’s.

The only general manager to point the Chargers to the Super Bowl was awarded the NFL’s ultimate honor last weekend.

Beathard, who also built the powerhouse Washington Redskins Super Bowl teams before he resurrected San Diego’s franchise, is in Canton, Ohio, with a selection that was long overdue.

There was never an expiration date of Beathard’s zest for life and that has to be mentioned along with his knack for building playoff teams.

He was an NFL executive who could evaluate talent with a keen eye that few could match. He unearthed every rock and went to tiny colleges to kick the tires on players who were unknown to others.

Many of those schools with small enrollments were just specks on a battered foldup map which was Beathard’s constant companion.

But on his way to earning his Hall of Fame bust, Beathard broke the NFL mold. Men in his position were often intoxicated with power and they had little time, or interest, in those that couldn’t help their teams win on Sundays.

Beathard was just as competitive, just as intense and just as focused to present a roster to the fans of whatever team he was working that they could support.

But Beathard was almost equally giddy about being different by being the same. He was an outliner to other NFL brass because he didn’t relinquish his love for surfing, biking, running and drinking cold beer — and all of that could be in just one day.

Beathard now lives outside of Nasvhille, Tennessee, relocating down South to be closer to his family. He reluctantly left behind his beloved Southern California and his envious perch above the waves on Neptune Street in Leucadia.

The only thing rivaling the unthinkable — the Chargers advancing to the Super Bowl in 1995 — was Beathard putting his boards in storage to waltz down to Tennessee. He loved North County as much as finding a gem in a mountain of players chasing their NFL dream.

When traipsing around North County during Beathard’s Chargers tenure from 1990-1999, Beathard could be found carving waves at Beacon’s, bodysurfing in Oceanside, drinking coffee at the Surf Dog Java Hut in Cardiff or slurping down his cherished cabbage soup at Leucadia’s La Especial Norte.

And it was Beathard who drafted Junior Seau, making sure the Oceanside High star didn’t travel far.

Beathard was always at home in the North County.

Sadly, at age 81, Beathard has memory issues and he even joked about it upon his selection, insisting his talk would be the shortest in history.

Instead Joe Gibbs, the former San Diego State assistant coach Beathard pegged to lead the Redskins, did most the gabbing. A video of Beathard speaking was played, with his message and delivery both perfect.

Beathard gave praise to those that helped him, but he also couldn’t resist displaying his reliable sense of humor, when he poked fun at himself.

“There are so many people that I want to thank but my memory is so bad now I can’t remember everybody,” Beathard said. “For those that I haven’t named I am really grateful.”

The name “Bobby Beathard” will always be special in the NFL. That’s also true in North County, where Beathard was a Hall of Fame guy to everyone he touched.

+ Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him @jparis_sports