WONDERLIC'D: Vince Young Isn't The Dumb One
a) Allow himself to be the victim of rumors he scored an embarrassingly-low 6 on the league-administered Wonderlic intelligence test;
b) Not participating in all the physical testing during the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis;
c) Relying on friends and family to serve as the handlers of his business affairs, his PR concerns, his football decisions and his contract negotiations.
If you answered a) or b), congratulations. You gave the same answer as 99 percent of observers of the University of Texas star's situation.
But if you really understand the inner workings of this system, you'll request a re-take. And you'll answer c).
"The biggest mistake Vince is making is relying on family friends, his uncle, this pal, that pal, to handle all his business,'' says a friend of mine, who happens to have 20 years of experience in the financial-planning business and has many clients in professional sports. "You can let your mama help you pick your girlfriend. You can let your girlfriend help you pick your clothes. You can let your buddies help you decide where in the house to put your pool table.
"But you hire professionals -- professionals you can trust -- to handle the business part of this. Professionals who won't just tell you what you want to hear. Professionals who don't think they are entitled to your money the way relatives are. Family? Friends of the family? You keep those people as far away as possible from your business.''
Vince's staff of "uncles and family lawyers and friends'' is led by inexperienced rep Major Adams. They are all from Houston. Does Vince believe that all the wisest football/business minds just happen to hang out in his hometown?
Young may or may not have hurt himself by limiting the physical work he did at the Combine, the annual meat market where prospects for the April 29-30 NFL Draft are poked and prodded and measured and timed by NFL talent evaluators. His decision to skip some of the drills is not unprecedented. However, there are plenty of personnel people who view players' decisions to pass on performing as signs of arrogance, or as attempts to hide flaws, or as a lack of competitive desire.
Does Vince's staff of advisors have a grasp on the fact that if Young performed well at the Combine, he could be the No. 1 overall pick? And that not performing at all could cause him to slip to the third, fourth, fifth spot?
Then there is the Wonderlic test. Really bright people get scores in the 30s. The average middle-schooler can handle most of the questions. Every once in a while, an NFL prospect will get himself a score in the single-digits.
A 6? Vince Young really got a 6? Well, maybe not.
Now comes word that the NFL administrator of the test may have misgraded it. And that Vince was given a make-up test. And that he scored a more respectable 16. (Two points: 1, that still isn't very impressive. And 2, if the first test was simply graded wrong, why a 're-test'? Why not just go back and 're-grade' the original? Conspiracy theories abound.)
No matter what, the football world's initial and now lingering reaction, of course, is that Vince is a dope who somehow spent a couple of years at UT and apparently never bothered learning anything.
The football world will again be wrong.
Young, in fact -- and this is according to acquaintances of mine who took classes with him -- not only attended class. ... he participated in classes, asked questions, gave answers, wrote papers. Seriously.
"Other kids thought it was cool that Vince was raising his hand in class,'' one UT student tells me.
So how do you score poorly on an intelligence test? An intelligence test that asks questions like this? (the following is an actual item):
Paper sells for 21 cents per pad. What will four pads cost?
C'mon now. The only way for Vince Young to flunk that question is to not know it's coming. Or to not know the importance of answering it. Or to have napped through the presentation of it. My 16-year-old football-playing son is a fairly bright boy; I administered 15 of the old Wonderlic questions I have to him.
He absolutely nailed being able to multiply 4 x 21. ... and in total, he got 14 of the 15 questions.
Was there a grading screw up? Maybe. Which still begs the question: If there was a grading screw up involving a player who is being properly handled and properly advised, does the story turn into a volcanic nightmare? Or would a qualified team of handlers be able to keep the lid on the story enough so it gurggles just enough to be a cute sidebar?
Meanwhile, the leader in the Young camp, Major Adams, was asked about the complexities of contract negotiations.
"I don't think it will be that much different because in the NFL, the contracts are pretty much slotted," Adams said. "Being a contract adviser, you get the contracts of the top picks and the top quarterbacks. They give you that information. It won't be that difficult."
"Slotting''? Major, that's what the team is supposed to argue, not the player! And Major, you know who DOESN'T get slotted? The No. 1 overall pick, that's who.
No, Vince Young isn't hiding anything. Nor is he scared of competition. Nor is he especially dumb. But thanks to the company he keeps, some "dumb germs'' are rubbing off on him.
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