Ed Beard defines what it means to be a competitor. While he made a name for himself on the football field, those who witnessed his remarkable feat at the 1957 Virginia State High School Wrestling Tournament can attest to his unbelievable athletic prowess. Without representing a school and having little formal coaching, unseeded and unranked, Beard strode onto the mats at Princess Anne High School with one goal in mind- to be the best. Goal accomplished. As with so many other trials in life, Ed Beard had more heart than anyone else that day and walked away as the state heavyweight wrestling champion.
Football was the foundation upon which Ed Beard established his greatest athletic achievements. Beard attended Chesapeake’s Oscar Smith High School, where he was named to the All-State, All-South, and All-American teams. He played two seasons at the University of Tennessee before serving in the U.S. Army where he was selected Outstanding Player on the 8th Army team in 1964.
Beard enjoyed an 18-year NFL career, eight as a player, and ten as a coach. As a Special Teams captain and then starting middle linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, he helped the 49ers win three consecutive NFC West titles. In 1971, Beard was awarded the prestigious Len Eshmond award for the most inspirational player on the 49ers team, a testament to the high esteem his 49er teammates held him in. Beard was the first Special Teams captain in the NFL and was named All-NFL Special Teams in 1971. His playing career cut short by knee injuries, Beard became linebackers coach for the 49ers, Saints, and then defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions. In 1996, the Oscar Smith High School football field was renamed “Beard-Delong-Easley Field.”
Teammates referred to Beard as “Biggie” because he always played bigger and better than his size. That’s what heart will do for you, and no one had a bigger heart for competition and excellence than Ed Beard.
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