No, the Wonderlic isn’t totally dead. But it’s close to the end. And you know what? Good riddance.
I would say “rest in peace,” but that would be a lie. I don’t want it to do that. I want it to be forgotten. To be seen as a relic. To be scorned. To be seen as one of the worst ideas the NFL ever had, because it is.
The NFL obviously feels the same way because the league announced it was no longer using the test. The Associated Press was the first to report on a memo distributed by the league office to member clubs that the 50-question intelligence test annually utilized during the pre-draft process was no longer going to be used at the scouting combine.
Later, however, the league office clarified that the NFL itself will no longer administer the test, but individual teams can.
But this in itself is significant and means that while the Wonderlic isn’t officially dead, the controversial test is pretty much a goner.
That’s because it’s likely a number of players would refuse to take it since it’s no longer mandated by the NFL. It could easily become like players at the scouting combine refusing to run the 40-yard dash or declining to participate in it at all.
In fact, a prospect would be crazy to take it now. My guess is fewer will, and soon the test will be dead.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Wonderlic, it became one of the most notorious, hated and feared of all the pre-draft tests. The NFL stubbornly used the test as a measure of intelligence when it had nothing to really do with football. It was, for the most part, a useless tool. Yet the NFL, which often has stuck with something even if it has proven to be a waste of time, continued to administer the test despite complaints from players, agents and even some team officials.
The reason this story about the league office abandoning the test is important isn’t solely about the test itself. It’s about what the test stood for. It’s a 1950s mentality at a time when the NFL is trying to move to a more progressive future – at least, progressive for the NFL.
The league also stated in the memo obtained by the Associated Press that it issued a warning to teams that they could lose a draft pick (no later than the fourth round) and face a fine if a team employee behaves in a way that’s “disrespectful, inappropriate, or unprofessional.”
“We aim for dignity, respect and professionalism,” league executive Troy Vincent told the AP. “It’s that simple.”
The combine has long been one of the most humiliating parts of the draft process and some of the questions asked of players have often crossed the line into cruel and disgusting territory. I call this the Dez Bryant rule because in 2010, the star receiver was asked at the combine if his mother was a prostitute.
The league is clearly trying to move in a better direction where players don’t feel like pieces of meat. The NFL itself not instituting the Wonderlic is part of that process.
In many ways, the test has become essentially useless because so many versions of it were leaked to agents, who then used them as practice tests for clients. An agent gave me several versions once. I studied all of them, took the test, and did well on it … and I’m an idiot.
An agent once told me that in the days prior to taking the test, his player couldn’t sleep, not because he was concerned about the results, but because he was terrified his scores would eventually leak to the media.
And that will remain one of the insidious after-images of the Wonderlic. The leaking of scores to the media was one of the more disgraceful parts of the testing process.
In some cases, agents leaked high scores of their clients to boost their public image and, potentially, their draft stock. In others, agents would obtain scores of potential draft rivals, and if those scores were low, leak them to the press to hurt the stock of another player.
In some of the most nefarious cases, teams would leak low scores of players they actually wanted to draft, hoping the public embarrassment would scare off teams considering drafting the player. Oh, yes, that happened.
Even worse, some of the leaked scores were inaccurate. In some cases, this was accidental. In others, it wasn’t.
It was a mess.
In one of the better examples of how inane the test is, it was reported in 2014 that Johnny Manziel had one of the higher scores of the quarterback group.
Manziel’s NFL career lasted two years.
Hopefully this is the beginning of your end, Wonderlic.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The Wonderlic test, one of NFL’s worst ideas, is dead. Good riddance.