Outside of the NFL franchise executives hard at work evaluating pro prospects each year, until today, few have been interested in the results of the annual candidate Wonderlic test. Until today, that is, when Aggie fans found yet one more reason to take pride in their very own Johnny Manziel. Johnny Football’s Wonderlic score bested scores by Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater. In the April 11, 2014 edition of Bleacher Report, featuring reporter Albert Breer’s tweets, the best news of the day was Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel did all Aggies proud.
Ask yourself two questions: Do you know what a Wonderlic score is, and most importantly, do you care? As all the fans of educational statistics know, the full name of the intellectual measurement instrument is the Wonderlic Contemporary Cognitive Ability Test, or “how you think.” It’s been around since 1937 but only in the past 40 years has the NFL Scouting Combine used the test “to provide a unique set of information about each player.”
How much information the Wonderlic conveys is minimal in some respects, and how valid that instrument must be is statistically irrelevant, because despite having undergone “several updates over the decades to modernize the questions and scoring algorithms” (are you asleep yet?), it’s not rocket science or brain surgery.
First, the test is a timed exercise featuring 50 questions to be completed in 12 minutes.
Last February, Bleacher Report shared a 15-question sample, multiple choice questions that ask what the ninth month of the year is; which number in a series of numbers (decimal and whole numbers) is the smallest; determine which month that “the hours of daylight and darkness in SEPTEMBER are nearest equal to the hours of daylight and darkness in” (choices are June, March, May and November). The Harvard graduate who’d scored in the 40s likely knew that question right off the bat.
A better question to ponder: What does that have to do with the famous Chicago Bear 46 defense or pocket passing? Oh well. No one is saying that the test is a joke, but it is still slightly amusing to see much ado made over the outcome. Chances are good that no one else’s scores earned story credit before Manziel outscoring most of his competion (we didn’t see A. J. McCarron’s scores but maybe that information will be revealed on his (possible) new reality show with fiancee Katharine Webb. Stay tuned to find out).
Breer noted Wonderlic scores were: Johnny Manziel-32; Blake Bortles-28; Teddy Bridgewater-20. Going back in time, Bleacher Report reminded readers that some of the highest scores in years past were 35, 40, and 48 by graduates of Harvard, Georgia, Utah and USC.
But this is Texas pride we’re talking about, and Bleacher Report just had to include that Vince Young had “reportedly earned” a 6 out of 50 on the test. That’s just meanspirited because Young was drafted in the first round, third overall by Tennessee. So here’s a question not on the Wonderlic test: How much does Vince Young’s signing bonus, multiplied by annual compensation package per year, times six years, plus player incentives plus endorsement deals, plus valuation of any local car dealerships who wanted him to help sell their cars equal? Possible answers include “billions and billions,” “millions and millions,” “more than you make,” or “wishes he would have done better on the Wonderlic test.” Pick one.
Speaking of all in good fun, no one told better Aggie jokes about athletics than the late basketball coach, Shelby Metcalf. Recounting a favorite, Shelby had told a player who received four F’s and one D: ‘Son, looks to me like you’re spending too much time on one subject.’” And for years that was the Aggie athletic stereotype. With today’s Manziel Wonderlic score, it’s a little harder to laugh at Aggies. Still not convinced?
You won’t laugh at a photo of Johnny Manziel’s Aggie class ring, bearing the crest of the Aggie Class of 2015. To be eligible to order the ring that all Aggies prize with all of their hearts, four basic criteria per Association of Former Students notes: you have to have 90 hours earned, 45 earned on campus (no on-line courses count), be in good academic standing with at least at 2.0 GPA, and “must not be on academic probation, suspension, dismissal, expulsion or on honor violation probation from the university.”
That Manziel ordered his ring shows his regard for Texas A&M and could well also signal his intent to return and finish his degree—smart move. The Wonderlic scores are grand and all, but it’s an arm to go with the brain that will be the deciding factor for NFL future success, not the number of nighttime and daylight hours in March. No one will ask their NFL playmakers to conjugate a word in Latin when you’re out on the turf. Not once will you be asked to ponder the Socratic method before scrambling away from a 300-lb defensive lineman. But you’d better know a good lawyer to get your contracts negotiated and protect you from wily, overpromising sports agents, so there is value in the Socratic method.
You have to be quick all right, but additional academics will have to wait until the pro career doesn’t overtake available time. Many pro players do come back to campus to finish their degrees. No one has shared recently the statistics on the football player graduation rates but they are exceptionally high in Texas A&M women’s basketball and men’s basketball as well. But no one is selling Aggie jerseys with their numbers on them in the local Academy and Gander Mountain stores either, even though they should.
So what’s the bottom line on this latest sports sound byte? Wonderlic, schmundelic, Texas A&M’s very own Johnny Manziel, no. 2 on his jersey and no.1 in the hearts of Aggies everywhere will do just fine come draft day. And if you need a little inspiration, Kevin Costner’s new movie, “Draft Day,” is out today at a theater near you.