George Young, the longtime General Manager of the Giants, was famous for his obsession with testing players. Young is credited with making the Wonderlic test part of the standard Scouting Combine experience, and Young also implemented a two-hour written test that was supposed to serve as a psychological assessment of prospective players.
When Deion Sanders saw that two-hour test, he knew it was not for him.
Sanders, the Hall of Fame cornerback who went fifth overall in the 1989 draft, said on NFL Network that when he was at the Scouting Combine, he had a very brief interaction with the Giants that he put to an end when he saw the test they wanted him to take.
“They sat me down and gave me a thick book,” Sanders recalled. “I mean, this thing was thicker than a phone book. I said, ‘What’s this?’ They said, ‘This is our test that we give all the players.’ I said, ‘Excuse me, what pick do you have in the draft?’ They said, I think, 10th [actually 18th]. I said, ‘I’ll be gone before then. I’ll see y’all later. I ain’t got time for this.’ That’s a true story.”
Sanders was far from the only person who had a problem with the test the Giants forced on players: When coach Dan Reeves left the Giants at the end of the 1996 season, he blamed Young’s test for many of the team’s personnel failures, saying that he just fundamentally disagreed with Young wasting everyone’s time with such a long exam when there was so much more important information that could be gleaned from simply watching the player’s college tape.
“My contention is that a young man in college who goes to a Combine and has to go through all kinds of tests in the Combine and then you ask him to sit down and take a two-hour test, he’s not that excited,” Reeves said. “So how valid is a two-hour test?”
Sanders recognized that to him, it wasn’t valid at all, because there was no way he was going to fall far enough in the draft for the Giants to take him anyway. It’s actually a little surprising that more star players don’t do what Sanders did. If you’re confident that what you put on tape shows you’re a great player, you’re free to respectfully tell teams that you’re not going to allow them to poke and prod you, physically or mentally. Sanders knew that his greatness on the field gave him the freedom to tell the Giants where to stick their test.