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Liccing My Wounds
Rick Reilly
April 23, 2001
Sensing that my stock wasn't rising in this weekend's NFL draft, noticing that MEL KIPER JR. hasn't once appeared on my caller ID and realizing that my 40 times were a little slower than a few other so-called prospects, I put it all on the line. I agreed to a Wonderlic.
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April 23, 2001

Liccing My Wounds

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Sensing that my stock wasn't rising in this weekend's NFL draft, noticing that MEL KIPER JR. hasn't once appeared on my caller ID and realizing that my 40 times were a little slower than a few other so-called prospects, I put it all on the line. I agreed to a Wonderlic.

A Wonderlic has nothing to do with a) White House interns, b) how The Natural cleaned Wonderboy or c) a long-lasting treat for deer. It's the intelligence test that NFL teams rely on to help them decide on which players they're going to dump tuna boats full of $100 bills. Every player at the scouting combine takes the test, which lasts 12 minutes and consists of 50 questions, each harder than the one before it.

I coerced the people at Wonderlic Inc., a personnel testing company outside Chicago, into faxing me a copy of one of this year's six NFL tests so I could try it at home. They agreed only if I took the test under supervision and didn't give away the questions. My wife, Linda, stood by with a stopwatch and a spatula, in case I refused to stop.

I knew what I was up against. Only one person in 100,000 scores a perfect 50. The only NFL player to do it was former Cincinnati Bengals punter and Harvard grad Pat McInally, which explains why he chose to be a punter and not, say, a punt returner.

The average score for an NFL prospect is 19. The average score overall—hundreds of corporations use the Wonderlic—is 21. Last year Iowa State running back Darren Davis reportedly scored a 4. Now, of course, he's in Congress.

Teams aren't supposed to release the scores, but they're usually leaked anyway. Among quarterbacks Brian Griese is said to have scored a 39, Drew Bledsoe 37, Steve Young 33, John Elway 30, Troy Aikman 29, Cade McNown 28, Mark Brunell 22, Tim Couch 22, Trent Dilfer 22, Brett Favre 22, Daunte Culpepper 21, Vinny Testaverde 18, Dan Marino 16, Randall Cunningham 15 and Jeff George 10. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski reportedly got a 9, though he offered $500 to the test proctor to give him a 10. (Kidding.) This year Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer is said to have scored a 32, and TCU star running back LaDainian Tomlinson only had a 13. Anytime your Wonderlic approaches your cleat size, it's not good.

I knew this was a risky career move. You can't rant and rave and stomp your feet every week about how right you are and then let people find out you really should be standing in an apron and a paper hat, going, "Care to try the McSuperCheese today?" So when Linda blew my coaching whistle six inches behind my right ear, I began. I realized right away why many players coming out of college suck on the Wonderlic. The questions aren't relevant. They need to be more like....

You signed your contract last Thursday. Ethically, you can ask to renegotiate a) when it expires, b) after a big year, c) the Tuesday after next.

If Ray Lewis is in a Humvee limo going 95 mph and Rae Carruth is in a Toyota going 105, how high will Court TV's ratings go? Paul Tagliabue is a) the NFL commissioner, b) dead, c) a and b.

The test fax was difficult to read. I asked my proctor if she would stop the clock and help me read one of the smudged numbers, but she only glared and fingered the spatula. Sweating, I was working on question 36 when the whistle about blew out my tympanum. She snatched up the test and faxed my answers to Wonderlic.

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