CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – Virginia Sports Hall of Famer and 49ers great Ed Beard recently died at age 83.
The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame announced his death on Monday.
Beard, born on December 9, 1939, was a star football player at Oscar Smith High School in South Norfolk in the late 1950s, and a state champion heavyweight wrestler despite his school’s lack of a wrestling program.
He went on to play two years at the University of Tennessee before enlisting in the U.S. Army, where he was named the Most Outstanding Player on the Army football team.
Beard was eventually drafted in the 1964 NFL Draft by San Francisco and played all eight seasons in the league at linebacker and special teams with the 49ers from 1965 to 1972, starting in 53 games.
Known by teammates as “Biggie,” because he played bigger than his size at about 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, won the 1971 Len Eshmont Award, given to the 49er each year who represents the “inspirational and courageous play” of former player Len Eshmont, and also served a decade as an NFL assistant coach.
Beard went on work as a contractor and with the Chesapeake Sheriff’s Department, and was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. Oscar Smith’s high school football field, Beard-DeLong-Easley Field, is also named in his honor.
He was also in the news back in the early 2010s after he stopped to help a person who was being beaten by a group of teenagers in Chesapeake. Beard suffered a concussion and cuts and bruises during the encounter, but said he’d continue working to help with local youth.
Beard was also a lover of music and a great singer, with a 1996 Virginian-Pilot article referring to him as “Singin’ Ed Beard.” “I went ahead and asked Ed Beard if he sang for senior citizens’ groups because they were too old to chase him,” a Pilot columnist Tony Stein joked at the time.