10. The Return of Blockbuster Trades
2002 proved to be an "in" year for trades in the YFFL. From weeks before the draft and right up to the trade deadline, superstars were swapping teams. The biggest trade of the season turned out to be the first trade of the season as well. Rich Gannon left the Dragons for the starting QB position of their cross-town rival, the Huskers. In return, the Dragons got RB Garrison Hearst who had a great year for the Dragons. The Huskers also acquired Derrick Mason and a draft pick, in which they used on Marty Booker, in exchange with the Beans. The Beans used the Huskers draft pick to draft Antonio Bryant, who was later part of a trade with the Merry Men's David Boston. Hard to follow yet? And in a rare late season trade, the Beans parted ways with Fred Taylor who was dealt to the White Guys for future considerations.
9. The Commissioner Gets Engaged
From a YFFL standpoint, it barely cracks our Top 10, but for the Commissioner of the YFFL it ranks No. 1 on the Stories of 2002 list. The royal family of the YFFL, the prince and princess themselves, ended speculation in August and finally made their engagement public. The YFFL draft was consequently delayed an hour as the newly engaged couple's press conference ran longer than expected. Rumors quickly flew that Jon might still have been a l ittle "overwhelmed" at draft time because his first move was to trade for Jake Plummer. He then drafted Vinny Testaverde and Trung Canidate which led to more speculation. Nevertheless, the happy couple plans to tie the knot sometime around Week 1 of the 2003 season.
8. Jon Kinsman Misses the Playoffs, Parity Reigns
For just the second time in the league's 9-year history, the playoffs won't include either the Gooks or the Dragons. Since the emergence of YFFL.com, the league has become highly competitive and has leveled the playing field. There was only 1 team with 10 wins this season and 5 teams were within a 2 games of .500. Meanwhile, Kinsman struggled with injuries, slow starts, and inconsistency. The Gooks were never in the playoff picture and finished 5 games behind the Refugees in the AFC East, and the Dragons' 1-3 start was just too much to overcome.
7. The Great Culpepper vs. Bledsoe Fiasco, Merry Men reach Finals
Coming off a disappointing 5-8 season, Dugas and the Merry Men faithful were faced with the tough task of putting together a winning team. The Merry Men were strong out of the gate and at one point were ranked No. 1 in the Power Rankings. Drew Bledsoe was one of the Top 3 QBs in the league with 100 points through Week 6. Dugas, who hates Bledsoe, stuck with a struggling Culpepper who managed just 118 points the entire season. A surprise visitor to the YFFL forum named "Donald" had a crush on Dugas and reminisced about gentleman truck drivers. The adversity facing the Merry Men led them to squander away late season games and end the season on a 4-game winless streak. Bledsoe was removed of his captaincy and Culpepper was named the new captain and the permanent starter for the rest of the season. While Bledsoe faded down the stretch, Culpepper found his former self and guided the Merry Men all the way to the Super Bowl.
6. Chris Davidson Returns to the YFFL
After a troubled 2001 season in which the league was left wondering if the legendary Chris Davidson would be back in 2002, the grizzled owner returned in 2002 leaving no doubts on his fantasy owning career. The 3-time YFFL Champion led the Boys back to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 and was third in the league in Forum postings with 13. Davidson was the YFFL owner of the month in November as the Eaters went 4-0 and the Boys clinched the NFC East title. An emotional Chris Davidson said that he was glad to be back, often times, fighting away tears. Chris Davidson's emphatic return to the YFFL comes in at No. 6 on our Top 10 Stories of 2002 list.
5. The Curse of Keith Byars
Fresh off their YFFL Championship Game appearance, the Buddies figured to be a fierce contender to return the playoffs and compete for a division title. At the start of the season, no team had more depth at QB with Kurt Warner, Kordell Stewart and a 3rd Stringer by the name of Michael Vick. But the seldom talked about curse of Keith Byars starting emerging by early October. Warner went down with a broken finger, Stewart lost his starting job, Moss was in trouble with the law, Dillon threatened retirement and the Buddies first round draft pick, Eric Johnson, was being outplayed by Justin Swift. The Buddies soon found themselves losers of 9 of their first 10 and out of the playoff picture. Kinsman threatened massive changes. The Curse of Keith Byars settles in at No. 5 on our list.
4. "Donald" harasses YFFL Owners
In a rare ugly moment in YFFL history, an unidentified assailant using the pseudonym "Donald" continually harassed YFFL owners and also the gay community. "Donald's" antics grew from harmless to threatening and led to a secret underground email movement amongst some of the owners. Commissioner Kinsman vowed that changes to the forum for 2003 would make Donald a one-year wonder. With that, Happy Trails Donald!
3. The Waiver Wire and Scoring Changes
A once predominantly conservative league that had less amendments to its bylaws then the Constitution of the United States, underwent radical changes in 2002. Bonus points were essentially doubled for yardage which helped out smaller, more versatile RBs. Meanwhile, the waiver wire was a big help for owners who were hard hit by the injury bug. Among the biggest waiver wire acquisitions: Tommy Maddox, Donald Driver, Moe Williams, Marcel Shipp, David Patten, Quincy Morgan and Christian Fauria. Rumor has it that more changes are to come in 2003 with bonus points being awarded for catches.
2. Priest Holmes' Year to Remember
Priest Holmes, cut by the Dragons two seasons ago, was reborn in 2002. The Husker RB shattered scoring records and beat out teammate Rich Gannon for the points title. Holmes scored a TD in every game except for one and scored at least 10 points in all but 2 games. He eclipsed 20 points an astonishing 5 times and only had 150 less points than the entire Brothers team. Sadly, Holmes suffered a hip strain in the NFC Championship and watched from the sidelines of the YFFL Super Bowl. Priest Holmes' record setting season is our No. 2 story of 2002.
And the No. 1 Story in the YFFL in 2002 is...
1. The UCornn Huskers Impossible Season
Shortly after the Beans narrowly defeated the Huskers 70-65 way back in week 1, I remember telling my brother in a conference call, not to worry because he should be in the playoff hunt. To say Kev Sansone regrouped is an understatement. The Huskers went on to win their next 14 games and capture the YFFL Championship with little opposition. Their lineup, made up of primarily veterans who had been cut from other teams, stayed healthy all season and included 3 pro bowlers in Hines Ward, Priest Holmes and Rich Gannon. Gannon, no longer needed by the Dragons, started all but one game for the Huskers and wound up with 189 points and eight 300-yard Passing games. Tiki Barber provided an excellent compliment to Holmes and was a critical part of the Championship win over the Merry Men. The Husker look strong heading into 2003 with Chad Pennington ready to take control of the veteran team. Kev Sansone's unpossible 14-1 Championship season is our No. 1 story of the 2002 YFFL season.