ESPN personalities spar over the Wonderlic

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One of the few things I’ve learned over the 15-plus years of running this website is that it’s wrong to make light of low Wonderlic scores, for a variety of reasons summarized below. On Thursday, a case of ESPN-on-ESPN crime emerged over the issue of Wonderlic shaming.

After Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (who routinely reports Wonderlic scores with no scrutiny or criticism) leaked running back numbers from the 50-question test, ESPN’s Darren Rovell compared the 11 generated by Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook to a variety of professions.

Via Ryan Phillips of TheBigLead.com, ESPN’s Bomani Jones reacted bluntly: “Wonderlic shaming is wrong, man. Stop it.”

Here’s why it’s wrong. First, the NFL does a horrible job of securing the results of what should be a confidential process. (I’ve argued for several years that the kids should refuse to submit to it because of the league’s inability to keep the numbers under wraps.) Second, the test is irrelevant to football ability; the league continues to administer it only because of the old-school desire for apples-to-apples comparisons for the sake of having apples-to-apples comparisons. Third, some of the players don’t even realize that they’ll be taking the test, have done little or no preparation for it, and have no idea that someone will be leaking the results to the media, allowing others to pass judgment on something that they surely regard as a low-priority aspect of the high-stress, low-sleep excursion to Indianapolis for the Scouting Combine.

We stopped reporting on Wonderlic scores several years ago, one of the rare occasions in which we received fair criticism, we considered it carefully, and we changed the way we do things. Others would be wise to do the same.

29 responses to “ESPN personalities spar over the Wonderlic

  1. I think wonderlic shaming is kind of funny. It makes me feel better about my 40 time of 7.2 seconds.

  2. They also should stop agreeing to offsets. Not a players fault they get saddled with inept coaches.

    Bosa shows exactly why no one should accept them.

  3. You won’t report wonderlich scores but you’ll report when Tim Tebow hits a home run on his first at bat, and you write entire articles about the Massachusetts criminal justice system.

    At least the subjects of the test scores are prospective NFL employees.

  4. To be fair, this is Darren Rovell we’re talking about here. I’m surprised that he hasn’t tweeted about the effect that Aaron Hernandez’s suicide has had on his brand.

  5. I disagree. It’s football testing information secured at the combine. While I agree with the criticism regarding the leaking of what is supposed to be confidential information, why is it confidential? 40 times and all of the other athletic testing results get reported. A lot of people question how relevant a 40 time is, especially at positions like offensive line. Players with poor scores in other tests are subject to criticisms about their speed and/or athleticism. Why shouldn’t players with poor Wonderlic scores be subject to criticism of their intelligence? Either bar the media from the combine and keep all the testing results confidential or release everything.

  6. You stopped reporting on it, minus the Fournette and Cook scores of 11. But yeah you totally stopped

  7. AJ Green got a 6, but since he’s an All Pro, it’s never brought up in relation to Morris Claiborne getting the same score in the same draft. If you do well on it, it just means you do well on standardized tests, which means a hill of beans in the NFL or any other profession. Ask an engineer or doctor how well standardized testing translates to their work over critical thinking.

  8. Good thing that don’t make Patriots fans take the Wonderlic, because then we would have proof that they are idiots.

  9. realfootballfan says:
    Apr 20, 2017 8:27 PM

    AJ Green got a 6, but since he’s an All Pro, it’s never brought up in relation to Morris Claiborne getting the same score in the same draft. If you do well on it, it just means you do well on standardized tests, which means a hill of beans in the NFL or any other profession. Ask an engineer or doctor how well standardized testing translates to their work over critical thinking.

    Just took a sample online and scored a 49 with 2 minutes and 6 seconds to spare. I’m a farmer with a mechanical engineering degree.

  10. stoneydog1000 says:
    Apr 20, 2017 8:27 PM
    Good thing that don’t make Patriots fans take the Wonderlic, because then we would have proof that they are idiots.
    ________________

    I don’t know. Patriots fans seem to be the only ones that understand science.

    Lets hypothetically our fans of all 32 teams in a room for an hour. In the first minute, the person presenting to the group will show us all a football and measure its air pressure for all to see the results. Then place the ball in a freezer. An hour later remove the football and measure the air pressure. Patriots fans will all go, wow that’s a cool science experiment. The fans of the other teams will all call the presenter a liar and accuse him of deflating the football when no one was looking… The patriots are guilty of plenty of things, but deflating footballs is definitely not one of them

  11. An NFL owner about to shell out 8 figures for an employee deserves to know if he’s dumber than a bag of hammers. The fans too, since we’re the ones ponying up the cash that supports this enterprise.

  12. It’s a valid measure of the likelihood of success, despite the examples trotted out to show “how worthless it is”. Certainly not the predominant factor considering the nature of the job, but when other characteristics balance out, the smarter players will have an advantage. If it wasn’t relevant, they wouldn’t bother with it.

  13. I’ve taken Wonderlic tests several times over the years and never scored less than a 48. It’s so easy it’s ridiculous. Are you trying to tell us that guys who have completed 3 years of college can’t manage to pass a test that’s exactly like the ones they’ve taken 50 times before? Scoring an 11 on a test like that means you never should have been able to pass a college class, let alone stay eligible for 3 years. But since it’s LSU and FSU, we know they never really did their own work.

  14. Thing is, it’s always McGinn, the Packer beat writer who drops the scores. It shouldn’t be that difficult to identify the Packer employee who is feeding him the information illegally.

  15. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has to be paying for the scores, since whoever is supplying the info is risking his job in order to do it. So, if the NFL is serious about cracking down all they have to do is take MJ-S to court to make them divulge the source or force them to stop publishing the results.

  16. Alternatively, the NFL could make the stipulation that no Wonderlic score under 20 could be published. Or have their testers put the result as “below 20” without giving an exact result when that is the case. That would cut McGinn’s audience in half, but still allow him to post above average scores. No one gets hurt.

  17. we know everything else about the players so whats wrong with knowing there wonderlic score…..nothing…

  18. “…one of the rare occasions in which we received fair criticism,” as opposed to all the complaints about sloppy editing, sing-song formula story writing, and opinion masquerading as news reporting?

  19. I disagree. It’s football testing information secured at the combine. While I agree with the criticism regarding the leaking of what is supposed to be confidential information, why is it confidential?

    —–

    I’ve never agreed with a comment on this site more than I agree with this one.

    Why the secrecy about the scores? All of their other measurables are disclosed–I don’t comprehend why an intelligence score should be somehow more sacred.

  20. “Third, some of the players don’t even realize that they’ll be taking the test, have done little or no preparation for it, and have no idea that someone will be leaking the results to the media, allowing others to pass judgment on something that they surely regard as a low-priority aspect of the high-stress, low-sleep excursion.”

    if they don’t know, it is their agent’s fault for not preparing them.

    These players are fans also, and all fans know these things.

  21. I’m sorry, but there’s no excuse for players “not knowing they are taking the test”

    They’re idiots – it’s been given for how long now?

    If they are too stupid to know that it’s part of things, well, that says a lot about themselves.

  22. If any real college student can’t get at least a 30 on the Wonderlic they are wasting everyone’s time.

    But I guess that’s why schools create specialized curriculum for “student/athletes” so that they don’t have to flunk them out and they can show good “graduation” rates when a athlete gets a degree with 80 credits and my kid gets one at 120 credits.

    But both diplomas look exactly the same……

    Yeah, give me the wonderlic scores and I would be administering them if I were the teams.

  23. “some of the players don’t even realize that they’ll be taking the test, have done little or no preparation for it, and have no idea that someone will be leaking the results to the media”.

    What?

  24. But the Cowboys need Wonderlic score to figure out who scored low enough that they should draft them. Take away the Wonderlic, and the Cowboys will only have the police blotter left to find their potential draftees.

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