By Charles Curcio, Sports Editor
The Stanly News & Press
Monday, December 24, 2012 —
The Carolina Panthers’ 2012 football season has not been the easiest year for the squad in their 17th year of competition in the National Football League.
High expectations were not met early in the year as the Panthers went 1-5 and the team’s general manager lost his job.
His interim replacement is only 36 years old, yet Stanly County native Brandon Beane has become an example of the old-fashioned values of hard work and determination generating professional success in the ultra-competitive world of professional sports.
Beane has taken over the duties of general manager of the Panthers since Marty Hurney was fired on Oct. 22.
Since Beane has taken over, the Panthers have had more success on the field, going 4-5 including wins in three of the team’s last four games.
The Roots of Success
Beane and his family, parents Robert and Cindy Beane and his sister Cristi, grew up in a house in Norwood over by Piney Point Golf Club. His father worked for Southeastern Materials and owned Stanly Masonry, while his mother is a certified public accountant in Albemarle at Beane Swaringen & Co. PLLC.
He attended Norwood Elementary and then went on to South Stanly High School, where he played a sport every season, lettering in several including football, basketball and golf.
According to his mother, Brandon had to fight for a position on teams because he was not the biggest player out on the field.
“Underestimated from the start, he gave it 150 percent and always had to prove himself,” Cindy Beane said.
His football coach in high school was Charlie Phillips, who said that he has known Beane for all of his life and that he is one of the tops on his list of players he has ever coached.
“He was everything you would want in a student, an athlete, a friend. He was not the biggest guy on the block but he competed like he was,” Phillips said.
Beane moved up to the varsity squad in 1991 as a sophomore after starting the season on the JV team and quarterbacked several games that season.
“He was a leader through his actions. It was how he went about his business, whether on the football field, the basketball court or in the classroom. You could tell that Brandon was going to be a success at whatever he decided to do,” Phillips said.
Beane said that Coach Phillips was a big influence on him, adding that he was “a super man. He was hard on you but he was trying to get the most out of you.”
Stanly County was the place for Brandon where he said that he learned the skills he now uses professionally.
“Stanly County people as a whole treat people nice. I feel that I got the hard-work values and how to treat people nicely [from Stanly County] [Panthers owner Jerry] Richardson always says to treat people with respect, whether they are a client, a fan or a player.”
A torn ACL in the first game of his senior year spelled the end of his dreams to play professional sports, but during his time at UNC-Wilmington, Beane’s original goal was to become a teacher and coach.
“I hadn’t wrapped my arm around how I was going to get to pro sports,” Beane said.
With his love of football and the expansion of the National Football League to include a franchise in Charlotte, Beane did some research in his sophomore year at UNC-Wilmington and decided to go into the public relations end of pro sports.
He didn’t follow in the footsteps of his mother or sister of becoming a CPA, saying that “my mom is the smartest one in the family. I couldn’t do the CPA thing. I can do long hours in sports, but long hours in numbers would drive me crazy.”
Beane graduated from UNC-Wilmington with a degree in communications minoring in leadership and computer science.
Little did he know later in his life with the Panthers that numbers would become an important part of his job.
When Beane told his parents of his goals to work in professional sports, his mother said that they told him he needed to have a Plan B in case that the pro sports thing didn’t work out.
However, she said that she knew that he would be successful because “he is an extremely hard worker and focused, a very determined young man. He’s a good people person and a good manager. He is also very organized; he probably got his organizational skills from me.”
Starting at the Bottom
Beane’s life with the Carolina Panthers began as many people’s professional experiences in life start, with an internship.
He said that he could not have imagined when he first started that he would end up where he is today, adding how fortunate he has been.
“I always believed in hard work and paying your dues; you never know when you will get your break. You have to do the right things and put yourself in the right position,” Beane said.
In 1998, Beane started as an intern in the public relations office but transferred to the football operations staff in 1998 and was given a full-time position in 1999.
Beane’s first full-time job was as football operations assistant, which included a number of duties like booking travel accommodations for the team, like planes and hotels as well as ground transportation to and from different places.
Another main responsibility for Beane was working on the arrangements for the Panthers at the team’s annual training camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. He also did other odd jobs as required, like picking players up at the airport.
Two years later, Beane became football operations manager, but his biggest promotion came in 2008 when then-GM Marty Hurney promoted Beane to Director of Football Operations, which meant that he was responsible for the budgeting for every dime spent on the football side.
Beane’s ascent through the organization came not from the nepotism that is part of the NFL but from hard work.
“The one thing that you see in this business is people that know people and I didn’t know a soul,” Beane said.
Beane gives a great deal of credit of his success with the Panthers to Hurney, who was the GM of the Panthers from 2002 to this season, when Hurney was fired and Beane took over as the interim general manager.
Cindy Beane mentioned how important Hurney was to her son, saying, “I was sorry to see Marty leave because I know how much he meant to [Brandon].”
Beane echoed those sentiments, saying that he had worked with Hurney for 14 seasons and that he was “a good man that taught me a lot about life and the business.”
Taking over for Hurney was hard for Beane who said regarding what happened to Hurney “was hard to see happen to someone that raised you.”
However, Beane said that “you always feel like if you are under someone’s wing that you would get the opportunity.”
In taking over the general manager duties, Beane said he was excited to have the opportunity to prove himself, just like he had time and time again both on the field in high school and in other roles with the Panthers.
Beane’s daily duties with the Carolina Panthers vary from day to day, according to Beane, but the job first and foremost has to do with managing the product that fans see on the field every game.
Much of the job is maintaining a healthy 53-man roster, as well as the practice squad. Beane works a great deal on transaction day with head coach Ron Rivera, as well as the pro personnel director.
On transaction day, Beane checks the waiver wire for available players and meets with Rivera as well as the different position coaches to see if players that Carolina could acquire would fit into the team’s scheme.
Beane also manages the different departments, including the training and weight rooms, as well as the nine college scouts and the football operations office.
A laptop and cell phone are always with him, according to Beane, who said that he takes his laptop home to work on once he and his wife, Hayley, put their two sons to bed.
“The Three-Hour Test”
Beane said that the toughest part of the general manager duties is dealing with a loss, but even just watching the games is tough as well.
“You don’t enjoy the game as much; you are biting your nails because it is gut-wrenching to lose. You put all these hours in for a three-hour test, and it’s either pass or fail,” Beane said, also saying that he feels like that he has let down the fans and the organization when Carolina loses.
Beane said that the Panthers winning is not a time for celebration for him but a relief, adding “you can’t celebrate because you have to prepare” for the next challenge ahead.
Watching the games, Beane said, “is like a parent watching their child. When you are coaching, you get so caught up in the emotion of the game that it goes by quicker. When you have no control [during the game], you are just sitting there. When we are ahead, the game lasts forever; when we are behind, time flies by. It is emotionally draining.”
The Challenges Ahead
The future for the current coaching staff and for Beane’s future role with the Panthers is uncertain, Beane said, because “we haven’t had the season we had hoped for, which is part of the reason I’m in this role now.”
Along with those concerns, Beane also said that the Panthers do not have a great deal of room under the salary cap and that the cap “is not growing exponentially,” which he said meant that all of the deals that are currently in place for the players will have to be looked at, starting with the higher salaries.
Helping Beane to face the future is the positive support of his friends and family, which Beane said he “would not have expected any different from Stanly County people.”