"World Champs!" Foreword Sneak Preview

Bobby Sansone, Senior Writer

December 29, 2010

World Champs!

To commemorate the Market Thugs' incredible 2010 season that culminated in a Super Bowl XVIII victory and their 2nd YFFL championship, Sports Illustrated is now offering your choice of a leather bound special collector's edition entitled "World Champs!" or a copy of Madden 11 for Nintendo DS with new 52-week subscriptions.

The special edition includes exclusive full color photos, in-depth coverage of the Thugs' run from 0-2 to Super Bowl champs and a very special Foreword by team owner Bobby Sansone. has received exclusive permission to publish this Foreword in its entirety. The full text appears below:

It was a difficult year that ended in triumph. I absolutely butchered the Beans and that ate on me much of the season. Kevin Kolb? Felix Jones? What was I thinking? At one point I even tried to trade Braylon Edwards for Michael Bush. Thankfully Chris rejected that offer or else the Beans would have been even worse.

Kevin Kolb The disastrous Kevin Kolb trade kept the focus on the Beans as the Thugs quietly constructed a champion

However, the Beans' misfortunes definitely kept the Thugs success for the latter half of the season a secret. I absolutely nailed several trades and pick-ups. I traded Steve Smith (NYG) for the No. 8 pick because I really wanted a rookie out of Syracuse by the name of Mike Williams. I just knew he would be a stud. I really liked LaGarrette Blount out of Oregon too but didn't draft him because he would never see any playing time behind Chris Johnson. When Tampa picked him up, I traded T.J. Houshmandzadeh for the sole reason of creating a roster spot so I could pick Blount up. Ryan Grant's Week 1 injury was likely a blessing in disguise. It left me with the need for an RB and I had a feeling Peyton Hillis' early success was not a fluke, so I claimed him right before I left for my honeymoon. Lastly, I really needed a back-up QB I could count on. I liked how Matt Cassel was playing and I knew he would only get better in Charlie Weis' system. I had some RB depth so I reluctantly parted ways with a first round draft pick and Ryan Grant so I could have some insurance for Schaub. My only regret was releasing Mike Williams (SEA).

My draft was OK. Nothing great. I went with Mike Williams, Victor Cruz, Max Hall, Jake Delhomme and the other Mike Williams. Have we put too much emphasis on the draft? My 2009 draft was even worse. Dom Hixon, Kris Brown, Austin Collie and John Carney. However, I still feel the Thugs' amazing 3-year run was setup by my 2008 draft with Ryan Grant, Ahmad Bradshaw, Ryan Torain and Kurt Warner. If only I had stuck with Torain through all his injuries!

The Thugs' season was not without hardships though. I lost Ryan Grant in Week 1. Austin Collie had 48 points thru the first 6 weeks before concussions ended his season. Lastly, D'Angelo Williams was probably put out of his misery when he landed on the IR after Week 7. I am anxious to see where he lands next season. The Patriots have to be a possibility.

The stalwarts of my team were Matt Schaub, Jason Witten and Dwayne Bowe. Schaub really struggled thru the first 9 weeks when he only had 3 games in double digits. I contemplated making a switch and traded for Cassel just in case. I had always liked Schaub. He is the epitome of what you want in a fantasy QB. He plays for a mediocre team with a horrible defense. He was a stud WR to throw to. They are almost always trailing in the 4th quarter. Everything you want in a fantasy QB. I coveted him ever since the Mallards prematurely let him go after the 2006 season.

Dwayne Bowe Dwayne Bowe was one of the most dominant players in the league after Week 5

I still don't know why I traded for Jason Witten. Tony Gonzalez was getting old but he was still productive. I guess I just figured Witten was just in a rut and that at 27 he stil had at least a half-dozen seasons left in him on a high-octane offense. For those that don't remember, Witten only had 2 TDs all last season. Then he didn't score until Week 4 of this season. I really questioned if I should start him. I stuck with Witten and he rewarded me with a TD in Week 13 and both playoff games.

And then there is Dwayne Bowe. To my credit I stuck with him through it all. Last season he did not score a TD after Week 7, including the playoffs! He scored 1 TD through the first five weeks this season. I decided to stick with him and I started him in Week 6. He rewarded me with 16, 14, 6, 8, 18, 16 and 24. Easily one of the greatest week runs by a WR since Randy Moss and Jerry Rice. I remember back at the 2007 draft I was sitting there with the No. 6 pick and I needed a WR bad. I had to choose between Bowe, Anthony Gonzalez, Ted Ginn, Dwayne Jarrett and Robert Meachem. I liked them all. I narrowed it down to Bowe, Gonzalez and Jarrett. I went with Bowe because of his size and speed. I had no idea if I made the right pick. I remember questioning it right away as Jon drafted Gonzalez next. Jon rarely screws up draft picks and he just drafted a player catching balls from Peyton Manning. In the long run it proved to pay off and I'm looking forward to the Cassel–Bowe connection for years to come.

The last three seasons have been an unbelievable run. The Thugs are 30-8-1 in the regular season but had fallen short in both playoff appearances: the heart-breaking 2007 Super Bowl loss to the Dragons and then the disappointing 2008 AFC Championship loss to the Refugees. I don't know if I could have taken a third straight year of coming up short. I had some monumental wins down the stretch that really made me think this team had what it took to win it all. The 62-61 victory over the Mallards in Week 10 got overshadowed by the Eaters victory over the Chickens. That was a huge win for me because I knew I could get the all important bye.

In Week 12, I got revenge on an always dangerous Peyton Manning and the Burger Buddies. I was still bitter after losing to them in Week 5 after Moss got traded to the Vikings and scored the game-winning TD on Monday night.

In Week 13, I beat the Thugs' arch rival and the owner I have the most respect for in Steve Dugas' Merry Men. At the time I wanted the Merry Men to win but when I thought about it, I just couldn't root for my arch rival to beat me even if it meant the Refugees would make the playoffs.

Matt Schaub Schaub flung the ball around for 300+ yards in each of his playoff starts

In the AFC Championship, it was the always dangerous Cuban Refugees. Aceto's teams had knocked me out of the playoffs the two previous seasons (2007: White Guys over Beans; 2008: Refugees over Thugs). Aceto has absolutely owned me in recent years. Plus, the entire league would have never forgiven me if I had lost and allowed the Refugees to be in the Super Bowl yet again.

And finally, a victory over the Evil Empire in the Super Bowl. The Chickens. What is left to say. We thought they were left for dead after an amazing run through the last decade, but they've reloaded before we had time blink and they'll be a force for the next several years. I was so pissed when the NFL moved that game to Tuesday night. Did they not take into consideration all the fantasy implications of that move?!?!? Absolutely absurd if you ask me. So, I basically became a chain smoker from Thursday night when Wallace put up 10 until the clock ticked 0:00 in last night's game. 2011 New Year's resolution: quit smoking.

Early thoughts on YFFL 2K11 (if there is one): I love the Mallards, Poop, Thugs and Brothers to win their divisions. The Merry Men, Chickens, Dragons and Refugees will also be strong. A lot of teams are one player away from turning the corner so look for A LOT of trades.

Thanks everyone for making this league so special. I can't wait until next year! Happy New Year!

-- Bobby