KUSA—Just what the Pro Football Hall of Fame needs, another member from the Washington team, one of the most mediocre franchises in NFL history.
Washington, which ranks 15th with an all-time win percentage of .506, is in position to have at least its 20th Hall of Famer after a contributor subcommittee nominated general manager Bobby Beathard – and not Broncos owner Pat Bowlen – for final election on Feb. 3, 2018 in Minneapolis.
The Broncos, who after a miserable start in which they didn’t post their first winning record until their 14th season, are now the seventh-winningest franchise in NFL history with a .541 percentage, yet have just five Hall of Famers.
The five-person contributor committee did give Bowlen strong consideration to the point he should be a lock next year, when two contributors are nominated for the Hall of Fame instead of just the one this year. But it appears Beathard was selected ahead of Bowlen this year for two primary reasons.
One, the contributor committee had nominated owners the two previous years in Eddie DeBartolo Jr. and Jerry Jones and they didn’t want to make it three in a row.
And two, Charley Casserly, who served as Beathard’s long-time assistant in Washington, was in the voting room as a contributor consultant. Imagine if Broncos president Joe Ellis were in the voting room as a consultant? Despite this overt case of Casserly conflict-of-interest, the committee submitted Beathard as its nominee.
Beathard inherited a Washington team in 1978 that had come off seven consecutive winning seasons. He immediately ended that streak by building a team that finished 8-8 in 1978.
With Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs as head coach, Washington won Super Bowls following the 1982 and ‘87 seasons, but Beathard had moved on to San Diego when Washington won it all again to cap the 1991 season.
In San Diego, Beathard did rebuild a Chargers team that reached the Super Bowl in the 1994 season, but in his final five years there, San Diego’s combined 26-54 record was the worst in the NFL.
Bowlen’s Broncos, meanwhile, compiled seven Super Bowl appearances against just five losing seasons in his 33 seasons.
He also a major influence in guiding the NFL to unprecedented heights of world-wide popularity, in particular as chairman of the league’s broadcast committee during the crucial period of the mid-1990s when network TV rights fees grew exponentially to the point the NFL generated $14 billion in revenues in 2016.
Yet, Bowlen was snubbed again from joining the list of Broncos in the Hall of Fame that remains limited to quarterback John Elway (class of 2004), left tackle Gary Zimmerman (2008), running back Floyd Little (2010), tight end Shannon Sharpe (2011), and running back Terrell Davis (2017).