So, how smart do you think the average National Football League player is?
The NFL knows the answer to that question.
Every year, players who make themselves available for the NFL draft from college are required to submit to an intelligence test at the NFL combine, which is taking place in Indianapolis this week. The Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test is a 50-question, 12-minute test that determines just how smart the football player is.
Why does that matter when the only thing an NFL player is required to do once they sign a contract is to stay in shape and play football? Well, it turns out that football at the pro level requires some intellectual sophistication, apparently.
If you think the NFL asks for a dumbed-down version of the Wonderlic, you would be incorrect. The players are required to answer some difficult questions, especially when you consider they have less than 15 seconds per question on average to get the correct answer.
There are sample questions from previous Wonderlics available online, and they indicate just how difficult the test is.
Assume the first two statements that follow are true, then determine if the third statement is true, false or uncertain. The first two statements are “The boy plays baseball”, “All baseball players wear hats” and the third statement is “The boy wears a hat”.
Another question asks “Do the words ‘resent’ and ‘reserve’ have similar meanings, contradictory meanings or mean neither the same nor opposite?
There was a math question that requires at least four mathematical steps to figure out. The answer to the question was 17, and 17 is never a good answer to a math question. NFL teams use the Wonderlic to find out whether an NFL player will be able to understand the complex playbooks football teams use these days, and to see just what kind of high school and college education the player received.
But all NFL prospects are also required to submit to a question-and-answer session with team general managers or scouting directors, and these sessions are often used to measure a player’s emotional and psychological state. These sessions famously result in some bizarre questions asked, and thanks to one former player, we now know more about what kinds of questions players get asked.
Former defensive lineman Austen Lane, once a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs, revealed this week some of the questions he was asked in the personal interview sessions. He was asked, in two different ways, about his thoughts regarding murder.
“If you could kill someone and get away with it, would you? “was one question he was asked. That was followed up later in a different session with the question “If you had to murder someone, would you use a gun or a knife?”
Don’t you kind of wonder what the correct answer to those two questions were?
Other players have chimed in as well. One player was asked which superpower he would want to have, and another was asked how many things he could think of to do with a paperclip.
Famously, current NFL Most Valuable Player Cam Newton said he was asked if he sees himself more as a cat or as a dog. Newton refused to answer the question, saying he saw himself as a human being, and he was immediately challenged as to whether he had a problem with authority.
Finally, one player said he was completely stymied when he was asked whether he was a pillow or a blanket.
What can be determined from a response to that question?