I’ve done plenty of reflecting over the past two days on the issues relating to the decision to report (as we always have done) the Wonderlic score obtained by LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne and the decision to poke fun (as we often do) at the fact that he got a four.
At the time, I didn’t stop to think whether Claiborne has a learning disability. I simply assumed (ass, you, me) that Claiborne didn’t take the test seriously, as plenty of incoming players have done in the past. If he truly has a learning disability (for which we now know he could have obtained an “untimed accommodation“), I’m sorry that I made any comment that could be interpreted as “mocking” of his score. (My far bigger concern was how someone with a score that low could have advanced through more than two full years of schooling at a major American university.)
As to the “mocking” issue, here’s what I said: “Finally, [Vince] Young has someone at whom he can point and laugh.” Other than the “Claiborne gives birth to a four” play on words in the title, there’s nothing in anything I wrote about the situation that reasonably could be called “mocking.”
Again, if Claiborne truly has a learning disability like dyslexia, I apologize to him for doing what happens every night on Letterman or The Daily Show: Making jokes at the expense of someone who is squarely in the public eye. (We built this thing by having precisely that kind of edge, and now that we’re “mainstream” I’m constantly reminded by people like Boomer Esiason to never lose that edge.)
The bigger issue is whether anyone should report on the outcome of the Wonderlic test administered to NFL players. It’s far too easy to claim that the issue should be off limits because the NFL regards it as confidential. Many player-related issues are confidential. Routinely, NFL reporters publicize pending steroids appeals that, if the matter were kept confidential and the appeal is ultimately successful, no one would ever know about. What’s more stigmatizing and harmful to a pro athlete, a low score on the Wonderlic for someone who indeed got the low score, or the indelible mark of juicing for someone who ultimately was exonerated?
The bigger reality is that Claiborne and every other football player who is hoping to be drafted or signed by an NFL team already is a public figure. And they hope to be paid in the way that most public figures are paid. Indeed, before making his Twitter account protected, Claiborne shrugged off the criticism he was receiving via the repeated typing of dollar signs and a hashtag that referred to his draft stock: “#Top10.”
Claiborne gets it. Scrutiny goes with the tax bracket he’s about to enter.
Besides, there has never been a peep in the past about the propriety of releasing supposedly confidential Wonderlic scores. When Bob McGinn, revered Packers scribe from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel who received the Dick McCann Award at the Pro Football Hall of Fame last August, reported that same month that former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor got a seven on the Wonderlic, did some guy who runs a Packers blog — or anyone else, for that matter — peer down their noses and/or chastise McGinn for reporting that Pryor got a seven?
Did Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com, who has been repeatedly criticizing me on Twitter for “mocking” Claiborne, hesitate to “mock” Pryor?
“Please be Richard Pryor — after he died,” Doyel tweeted at the time. Curiously, Doyel crafted no lengthy column condemning McGinn for reporting Pryor’s number or rebuking those (like Doyel himself) who mocked Pryor for it.
So, to summarize: (1) I’m sorry to have said anything that could be interpreted as “mocking” Claiborne, if he truly has a learning disability; (2) if a Hall of Fame journalist like Bob McGinn thinks the Wonderlic scores of NFL players are newsworthy, so do I; and (3) Gregg Doyel is a hypocrite.