Beans Ready To Shed Losing Ways

Bobby Sansone, Senior Writer

December 16, 2003

The Mexican Humping Beans, a franchise still searching for an identity, will look to rid themselves of a reputation of futility, memories of the Eaters’ Gary Anderson, and the player who set the franchise back eight years, Lawrence Phillips when they take on the Market Thugs this weekend in Super Bowl XI. Prior to this season, the Beans had only had two winning seasons, both of which ended in heart-breaking losses in the NFC Championship game. The glory days of 1998 and 1999 are but a distant memory now, only Jeff Wilkins remains from the 1998 team that went 11-3.

Memories, in general, are few and far between for the Beans outside of that memorable 11-3 1998 season. They have no retired numbers hanging in the Ring of Honor at Jim “Bean” Stadium as the one player who could have been labeled the franchise player, Fred Taylor, was traded at the end of last season. Wayne Chrebet, the captain of the team for most of their 8-year history, was let go in the pre-season and now plays for the expansion Llamas. The Beans have never had a great QB either. Mark Brunell, quarterbacked the team for the first four seasons before being traded to the Memphis Brothers for a 2nd round draft pick. From there the team struggled to find a replacement and officially hit an all-time low when Jim Harbaugh quarterbacked the team during the 2000 season.

Most experts agree that the turning point in the Beans woeful history was the 2001 draft. Sansone, desperate for anything positive after a disappointing 2000 season in which the Beans went 5-8, asked his dad, Bob Sansone to draft for him. The elder Sansone obliged and came away with two cornerstones in the Beans lineup today, drafting Trent Green 4th overall and Travis Henry in the second round. The Beans were disappointing again in 2001, going 3-10. The woeful season however, enabled them to draft Clinton Portis 2nd overall in the 2002 draft, one pick behind the Brothers’ William Green. Where would these two teams be today if those picks were reversed?

Of course the Beans had their share of luck in assembling their high scoring lineup. The fifth round of the 2000 draft, one of the great steals in YFFL draft history, is when the Beans selected Laveraneus Coles, a troubled WR out of Florida State. To put how big of a steal he was, look at the five players drafted immediately in front of Coles: Neal Rackers, Matt Stover, Corey Bradford, Joe Montgomery and Wade Richey. Coles isn’t a part of the Beans anymore but was the central figure in the trade that brought Tony Gonzalez to the Beans. The luck continued for the Beans last season when Sansone gambled with one of his waiver wire acquisitions in Marcel Shipp, an undrafted rookie out of UMASS. Shipp quickly excelled and ultimately stole the Cardinals’ starting RB job from Thomas Jones. The final good fortune came at the 2003 draft when Charles Rogers surprisingly fell to the Beans at No. 3 overall. Rogers is out for the season but figures to be a scoring threat for the Beans for years to come.

All of these acquisitions bring us back to the only player remaining from the Beans 1998 season. Jeff Wilkins, who just may be the MVP of this offensive juggernaut, is averaging an astonishing 10.0 ppg this season. Sansone, who was searching for an identity for the Beans for so long, might have been looking in all the wrong places the entire time. Jeff Wilkins, the dependable kicker and longest tenured player on the Beans roster, will also play in his third Pro Bowl on Sunday and is quickly moving up the YFFL’s All-Time Scoring List.

On Monday, Sansone has chose Wilkins as the team’s captain and he will represent the Beans during the coin toss in the Super Bowl. The Beans, the same franchise that selected Lawrence Phillips with the first pick in the 1996 draft, have finally found an identity and for the first time ever, represent the National Football Conference in the YFFL Super Bowl.