The NFL's smartest players
BY LUKE BROADWATER, B
Sure, Ravens center and Harvard grad Matt Birk is smart. But is he "wicked smaht"? The Sporting News recently named him the sixth smartest athlete in all of professional sports and Birk reportedly received a 46 out of 50 on the Wonderlic test, a 50-question, 12-minute IQ test that judges reading, math, logic and the ability to solve problems quickly. That's one of the higher scores in NFL history on the test, which is administered to pre-draft football players.
How does that compare to the average person? According to Paul Zimmerman's book, "The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football," the average chemist scores a 31 on the test, the average journalist a 26, and average security guard a 17.
Anyone who scores a 20 is considered to have average intelligence, and a score below a 10 indicates questionable literacy. Some of the NFL's biggest names have revealed lower than mediocre intelligence on the Wonderlic. Exhibit A: Terry Bradshaw's 15. At least one NFL player is reported to have scored a 1.
So, who did the best? Here are the five NFL players with the highest known scores on the test.
Benjamin Watson, tight end, Cleveland Browns
5) The former Duke football player and University of Georgia finance major reportedly scored a 48 on the test, an achievement that translates to an IQ of 172. That allegedly makes him smarter than most presidents, but less intelligent than chess grand masters.
Watson was drafted by the New England Patriots in the 2004 NFL draft. This year he has 230 receiving yards and a TD for the Browns.
4) Kevin Curtis, wide receiver, free agent, formerly with the Philadelphia Eagles
The Utah State player and former Philadelphia Eagles player reportedly scored a 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic test. Once called the "fastest white guy" in the NFL by Atlanta Falcons defensive back Deangelo Hall, Curtis has been hampered by injuries and, unfortunately, was recently diagnosed with cancer. In 2007, he scored six TDs and gained more than 1,000 receiving yards.
3) Ryan Fitzpatrick, quarterback, Buffalo Bills
Like Birk, Fitzpatrick entered the NFL with an economics degree from Harvard. He reportedly got 1580 on the SAT and a 48 on the Wonderlic. Most impressive, Fitzpatrick finished the 50-question test in nine minutes, when most players run out of time well before they reach the end. This season he's thrown seven TDs (and two interceptions) while passing for 595 yards and a QB rating of 99.9.
2) Mike Mamula defense, retired, Philadelphia Eagles
Mamula reportedly scored a 49 on his Wonderlic test prior to the 1995 NFL Draft, the second-highest score on record. A star at Boston College, he had a brief career in the NFL that ended amid injury in 2000. Mamula had 209 tackles and 31.5 sacks in 77 career games.
1) Pat McInally, punter, retired, Cincinnati Bengals
The third Harvard man mentioned, McInally is the only player in NFL history who has a verified perfect score on the Wonderlic. Drafted in 1975, he played in the NFL for 10 years, making a Pro Bowl and the Super Bowl.
McInally told Rivals.com that he surprised himself: "It really did seem like an easy test at the time. One of the reasons I did so well is because I didn't think it mattered. So I think I didn't feel any pressure at all. ... If I took it 100 times I'd probably never do that again."