Friday, March 4, 2011

Sports Q&A: Wonderlic Powers, Activate!

By Jeffrey Boswell

The NFL Combine is behind us, and overshadowed by all the sprints, jumps, pumped iron, and Cam Newton sightings was Greg McElroy's impressive 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic test. Should incredible scores like McElroy's be glamorized just as much as a record 40-yard dash time or other impressive physical feats?

Sure, the Wonderlic is the red-headed stepchild of tests used to measure the supposed readiness of an NFL prospect. While we are bombarded statistically with 40-yard dash times, broad jumps, cone drills, and 225-pound bench presses, Wonderlic scores are often not even reported, and are guarded closely by the NFL.

Why does the NFL choose to keep Wonderlic scores close to the vest? Who knows? I'd venture a guess to say it's because Wonderlic scores have absolutely no correlation to a player's success in the NFL, and that's the little secret shared by the league and Wonderlic. By shrouding the scores in mystery, the NFL keeps those hidden scores relevant, and thereby maintains the relevance of the Wonderlic test itself. Let's face it. If not for the NFL, the "Wonderlic test" would not be in the everyday vernacular of sports fans.

Yes, the Wonderlic test gets plenty of publicity, but often, it's negative publicity, because the appetites of sports fan are whetted more by low scores than high.

But Wonderlic scores like McElroy's should be celebrated, and freely reported, just as Chris Johnson's 4.24 40-yard dash in 2008 was. Johnson was deified for his achievement, while McElroy's was practically just mentioned in passing. While a 48 on the Wonderlic is no more a guarantee of NFL stardom than a sub-4.30 40, it's as impressive as a sub-4.30 40. Why the difference in coverage? Johnson's run was seen on television, and replayed thousands of times. McElroy's test was never given a chance.

That needs to change. Here's how.

Wonderlic scores should not only be public, the test itself should be televised as part of the broadcast of the NFL Combine. It's likely the last great bastion of televised "sports" that has yet to be conquered, now that chess and poker have fallen.

The Wonderlic is a 12-minute, 50-question test used to assess aptitude and problem-solving skills in a range of occupations, not just football, although results often indicate that a subject is likely capable of only playing football. McElroy nearly aced the test, with his score of 48 matching those of NFL players Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kevin Curtis, and Benjamin Watson as legendary in the annals of the test. Only one player, Harvard graduate Pat McInally, boasts the only confirmed score of 50.

Due to the secretive nature of test results, and the rise of Internet rumors, some results are wildly exaggerated, such as Vince Young's 1, or Mark Sanchez's 69. No, Young didn't score a 1, and no, the "skunk rule" wasn't invoked during his allotted time. Young actually scored a 6, but rumor and hearsay led to the inaccuracies.

Televised testing would put an end to false reports and speculation of scores. The results would be right there on the screen for viewers to see. More importantly, viewers could play along, testing their skill against their soon-to-be heroes.

The format of the test couldn't be better suited for televison. The 12-minute test would allow for at least one commercial break, making mid-test interviews with test-takers a possibility. Add a roving reporter to complement play-by-play and color analysts, and you've got success.

Of course, if Wonderlic tests are to be televised, the questions would have to be revised to appeal to television audiences, and invoke situations athletes can well relate to. Below are proposed questions for the new, televised Wonderlic test.

* If Mark Sanchez wipes a booger on his 17-year-old cousin, whom he just slept with, how many questionable acts has he committed?

A. 1
B. 2
C. 3
D. 0, as long as the Jets make the playoffs.

* Antonio Cromartie has fathered nine children with eight different women. Which of the following statements is most true:

A. Cromartie would score well on the "broad" jump.
B. Cromartie likes "pump-and-run" coverage.
C. Cromartie family reunions are well-attended.
D. All of the above.

* If Brett Favre sends a text message picture of his penis to a cell phone with a 2"x2" screen, and his penis covers 20% of the screen, what is the area (in square inches) of Favre's penis?

A. Tiny
B. .8
C. 4
D. About the size of a postage stamp.

* Use the following words in a sentence: Tiger Woods, stroke, shaft, hole, wood, swing, grip, lip. Now, use the following words in a sentence without mentioning "golf."

* The Dallas Cowboys sold 106,132 tickets to the Super Bowl. Attendance was listed as 102,987. How many ticket-holders are eligible to file a class-action lawsuit?

A. 3,541
B. 3,451
C. 3,145
D. None

* Fill in the blank. Roger Clemens stands before a grand jury. He is most likely to ________ himself.

A. incriminate
B. perjure
C. inject
D. misremember

* A train carrying Jim Calhoun leaves Storrs, Connecticut at 55 miles per hour heading south. Another train carrying Bruce Pearl leaves Knoxville, Tennessee at 45 miles per hour heading east. Where will the two trains meet?

A. At a cookout in Richmond, Virginia.
B. At NCAA offices in Indianapolis.
C. At a dark alley in Washington, DC, home of a top-10 recruit.
D. At a rave hosted by Pat Summit and Carrot Top.

* St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa sits in his car at a stoplight. The stoplight cycles every 60 seconds. If LaRussa's blood alcohol content is .26, and decreases .01 every 10 minutes, what will his BAC be after 50 stoplight cycles?

A. Below the Mendoza Line
B. .21
C. .24
D. π

* An ESPN personality is on fire. This is an example of:

A. Erin Andrews is Smoking
B. Tony Kornheiser is Cooking
C. Jim Rome is Burning
D. A horrible accident when Stephen A. Smith interviews Richard Pryor on "Quite Frankly"

* Henry Aaron likes his coffee with sugar. Using Bill James' formula for "runs created," and assuming a constant rate of the expansion of the universe, it can be determined that Barry Bonds likes his coffee with:

A. Cream
B. Clear
C. Victor Conte
D. H.G.H. Wells

* Wilt Chamberlain liked women. Michael Jordan likes gambling and golf. Using those facts, in conjunction with simple logic and deductive reasoning, determine what shoes Rex Ryan wears on the golf course.

A. Flip-flops
B. Etonic
C. Foot-Joy
D. Open-toed pumps

* Match the fight with its famous tag-line.

A. Evander Holyfield/Mike Tyson II
B. Sugar Ray Leonard/Roberto Duran II
C. Bobby Knight/Puerton Rican police officer
D. Nolan Ryan/Robin Ventura

1. "No Mas"
2. "No Contest"
3. "No Ear"
4. "No More"

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