Brawnpower, or Gene gets testy with the NFL

Gene Weingarten
Columnist June 25, 2013

The NFL is experimenting with a new exam to supplement the controversial Wonderlic test, which is a 50-question multiple-choice IQ exam given to all prospective players. The test is controversial mostly because there hasn’t been a reliable correlation between athletes’ scores, which range between 1 and 50, and subsequent athletic performance.

Though he is one of the best tailbacks in the game, for example, 49er Frank Gore famously scored a 6, which is roughly the accurate-guess rate of a game of “cow-pie roulette,” a Midwestern county-fair favorite in which a cow is marched over a grid of numbered squares and you bet on which she will first fertilize.

Gene Weingarten is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and writes "Below the Beltway," a weekly humor column that is nationally syndicated. View Archive

I applaud the NFL for recognizing it has a problem but would like it to go in another direction. The players don’t need a new IQ exam. No one cares how smart football players are. We care about other things. I recommend they use my four-question test:

1. You sack the opposing quarterback. Which of the two following things are you most likely to do next:

__ I’d walk confidently back to my huddle, but certainly not gloat; for one thing, I’m paid to sack quarterbacks — just doing the job for which you are extravagantly paid should not be cause for unseemly celebration. But also, I’d be concerned that I might have caused a disabling injury. As players, we are in this violent sport together, and take no joy from inflicting pain on others.


(By Eric Shansby)

__ I’d start with a your basic bump-and-grind imitation of male sexual domination in the animal kingdom, then pantomime digging the quarterback’s grave, and end with my crowd-pleasing, signature, wag-in-the-face buttock-taunt.

2. You are recording the short video that plays at the beginning of each game, in which the players serially recite their names and what college they played for. How would you do this?

__ I’d say the name of my college, but with some humility, inasmuch as I went for only two years, majored in “kinesthesiology,” which I still cannot spell, and then left for the bucks of a professional career. I recognize that my bragging about the college I “attended” makes about as much sense as George W. Bush bragging about having won the Vietnam War.

__ I’d first pause for effect, as though the information I was about to disclose was Tibetan mountaintop wisdom. Then I would say, “THE Uni-VER-si-TEH of Southwestern LOO-siana, home of the Fightin’ Prawns,” as though I were talking about Harvard Law School and I were an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

3. You are an offensive tackle. You have eaten yourself up to 330 pounds, with a belly the size of one of those used-car-lot advertising blimps, which helpfully lowers your center of gravity, but which makes it impossible for you to look down to see your own personal region. How do you carry yourself on the field?

__ With some embarrassment. It would bother me that to get an “edge” in my chosen career I must literally distort my body into an unnatural and unhealthful state of corpulence; I would also fear that I might be subtly endorsing the lamentable American epidemic of obesity.

__ With all the pride of the pregnant Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, carrying the heir to the British throne.

4. When interviewed by the news media after a game, how will you express yourself?

__ I will speak from my heart, trying to explain the thrills and disappointment of athletic competition plainly, in an honest way that people can understand and relate to their own lives.

__ I will rely entirely on cliches, substituting for genuine observations those sports bromides that allow me to avoid ever having to think or engage another person in meaningful conversation. Ideally, this will include “taking it to the next level,” “giving 110 percent,” “controlling our own destiny,” and of course, thanking the Lord for His having favored me, and not my opponent, in this game.

Scoring: I think you know.

E-mail Gene at weingarten@washpost.com. Find chats and updates at washingtonpost.com/magazine.

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