Beach makes big jump in class, filling Jackson void with Eagles Ex-Colt finds fame in his 10th year

October 01, 1992|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- The job was supposed to be his only on a temporary basis. The Philadelphia Eagles had asked Pat Beach to keep Keith Jackson's starting job warm until Jackson's latest contract squabble was history.

But when the Eagles' All-Pro tight end disappeared through a window of limited free agency this week, Beach no longer was an emergency fill-in. Now, the 32-year-old journeyman is the Eagles' main man at tight end.

Beach found out that Jackson had agreed to a four-year, $million contract with the Miami Dolphins like millions of others did -- while watching "Monday Night Football."

"I was watching 'Northern Exposure,' and I turned over to 'Monday Night Football,' " Beach said yesterday, addressing the media for the first time as the unqualified starter.

"All the channels were saying 'Keith Jackson is going south.' There had been a cloud over me because Keith always was coming back. This finally settled it for me. I let out a little breath [of relief]."

After spending nine seasons in relative anonymity with the Baltimore and Indianapolis Colts, Beach has stepped at last into the spotlight. The 3-0 Eagles play the 3-0 Dallas Cowboys on Monday night in an NFC East showdown in Philadelphia.

Surrounded by reporters and caught up in the hype of a crucial early-season game, this is a far cry from the low-profile stance Beach assumed with the Colts.

"It's like I died and went to heaven," he said. "I loved playing for the Colts and I had a lot of friends in Indianapolis. But I'm on a Super

Bowl contender, a great team with a great bunch of guys."

Beach, who had 155 receptions in 128 games with the Colts, won't replace Jackson as Randall Cunningham's favorite receiver. In three games this season, he has two catches for 27 yards. But Beach, 6 feet 4 and 250 pounds, is a much better pass blocker than Jackson.

"I'm not going to fill Keith Jackson's shoes," Beach said. "He's a great talent."

Where Beach has been is what makes his 10th NFL season so special (he spent 1984 on injured reserve). A sixth-round draft pick by the Colts in 1982, he was a long shot to make the team and is the answer to a trivia question: What NFL player scored the last regular-season touchdown at Memorial Stadium?

Beach smiles and shakes his head when he remembers his first training camp with the Colts.

"That first year we had, I think, 29 rookies or first-year players," Beach said. "Frank Kush was the coach. It's been very easy since then.

"I love Frank. But it was like being in college still. We had eight weeks of two-a-days. It was sheer hell."

Beach left the Colts after the 1991 season, signing with the New York Jets in Plan B free agency. After getting cut by the Jets, he was signed by the Eagles as an emergency pickup.

"I have no bad things to say about the Colts," he said. "But it's so much better to be on a winning team, going into a game like Monday, compared to the kind of game we used to play in Indianapolis as an also-ran."

Old Colts

A5 Former Baltimore Colts still playing in the NFL:

Player. . .. . ....... Pos. .......... Team

Pat Beach. ............ TE. .......... Eagles

Ray Donaldson........... C .............Colts

Grant Feasel . ......... C. ........ Seahawks

Nesby Glasgow.......... DB. ........ Seahawks

Chris Hinton. ......... OT........... Falcons

Cliff Odom............. LB. ......... Dolphins

Mike Pagel. ........... QB............... Rams

Rohn Stark.............. P.............. Colts

Steve Wright........... OT............ Raiders

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