The practice is winding down. A writer shows Beathard a piece in The Washington Times that says All-Pro defensive end Dexter Manley wants to renegotiate his contract. It quotes Manley's agent, Bob Woolf, as saying he tried to reach Beathard but couldn't. "Tried to reach me?" says Beathard, looking hurt. "I never got any message that he tried to reach me."
Upon returning to his office, his first call is to Woolf. He reaches Woolf's associate, Randy Vataha, the former New England Patriot wide receiver. "I know, Randy," says Beathard. "The base is low, but nobody's got an incentive package like he has. He didn't make it all last year because of the strike, but if he goes the way he has, he'll be up over $700,000 this season. Then we'll look at it, O.K.?"
One of Beathard's policies is that he tries to redo a contract before a player enters his option year. Another is that if a player clearly outperforms his contract, then it's rewritten. "If you hold a player to a long-term contract," he says, "or if you start tacking on more years, all you do is create an unhappy player."
The afternoon winds down. Somehow the phone messages get returned and the letters answered. The last call of the day is from Ted Grossman, a Hollywood stuntman and Beathard's best friend. They met on the beach 30 years ago. They look alike, dress alike and have the same remarkable energy level.
Beathard invites Grossman to league meetings. The stuntman shows up at NFL parties, for which "casual dress" usually means a dark suit, in slacks and sandals. Beathard might introduce his friend as a recruiter for the Maccabiah Games. What the hell, Grossman once played volleyball in the games. Or as an international rugby star. After all, Grossman tried professional rugby in Australia, New Zealand and France 35 years ago as a member of a nondescript bunch of U.S. football players (he was a backup quarterback at the College of the Pacific) who billed themselves as the American All-Stars, despite the fact that their rugby knowledge was zilch.
Once at the league meetings, Beathard introduced Grossman to John Madden, then the Oakland Raiders' coach, as a kinesiology expert from Cal Tech who had done a time-and-motion study on quarterbacks setting up. "I think you'd better listen to what he has to say," Beathard told Madden.
"I told him, 'The old crossover method is obsolete. You can cut three-tenths of a second this way,' " says Grossman. "And I get into a semisquat and backpedal in these tiny pitty-pat steps. Madden's taking it all in. I mean, the name Cal Tech is magic. 'Yes, I can see that," he says. Then I say, 'And you distract the defense by doing this,' and I make these big circles with my left hand. Bobby bursts out laughing, and John yells, 'Get the hell out of here!' "
In the early '50s Beathard was a single wing tailback and safety for El Segundo High, and Grossman played for Beverly Hills High. Before that Beathard was a water nut. By the time he was 11, he had a boxful of swimming medals and ribbons. "Pool swimming, rough-water swims in the ocean, I didn't know much else," he says. "We'd go down to La Jolla and swim around the buoy, swim around the pier in Oceanside. We bodysurfed everywhere—the Wedge, shot the pier at Huntington. I board surfed, too, but bodysurfing was always best. You felt like you were part of the wave."
By the 10th grade Beathard was burned out on competitive swimming. He turned to football and, as a 170-pound senior at El Segundo in 1953, made all-league. Beathard says he was "quick rather than fast." He certainly wasn't as fast as his younger brother, Pete, who would quarterback for Southern Cal and various teams in the NFL, AFL and WFL.
An El Segundo assistant got Beathard and a few of his teammates scholarships to LSU. "They brought me in early to get used to the humidity," says Beathard of his brief stay in Baton Rouge. By September, Beathard was longing for California, and he entered El Camino C.C., where he played backup quarterback on an undefeated team. He went to Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo the next fall, redshirted and then started at quarterback and defensive back four games into his sophomore year. With Beathard at quarterback, Cal Poly put together 9-1 seasons in 1957 and '58.