Earnest Ray “Bubba” Bean didn’t have a long career with the Falcons. But if your Falcons fandom stretches back to the late 1970s, then you surely remember him. The Falcons took Bean 9th overall in the 1976 NFL draft, and unfortunately, he never really got his feet under him as a professional.
I can’t swear to the truth of this story, but the Falcons apparently had their heart set on drafting an offensive tackle in the 1976 draft. When their first option wasn’t available (Wisconsin’s Dennis Lick was selected 8th overall by the Bears), they scrambled and took Bean instead.
What followed was a mediocre rookie campaign, a season lost to injury (1977), and two average campaigns (1978-79). Bean fumbled 4 times in 1976, then 7 times in 1978. By the end of 1979, William Andrews had officially arrived on the scene and Bean found himself on the outside looking in.
In his defense, Bean racked up 1,528 rushing yards, 494 receiving yards, and 8 total touchdowns over three seasons with the Falcons (1976 and 1978-1979). That’s not bad for a part-time role player. But Bean was supposed to be the feature back. He was a top ten pick in the NFL draft, and he never lived up to that pedigree.
After he retired, Bean went back to his alma mater (Texas A&M) to work in an administrative role before jumping into a long, successful career in construction. He does youth outreach work and remembers his years playing football fondly.