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McElroy may be smart choice, for what that's worth

by | Columnist

Greg McElroy, the Alabama quarterback, allegedly scored a 48 on his NFL Combine Wonderlic test, which we know because people close to him raced to get his score out to as many people as possible. If he'd gotten an eight, or a four, it would have taken more time for the news to leak out.

Maybe a couple of hours.

Greg McElroy's 48 on the Wonderlic doesn't necessarily translate. (US Presswire)  
Greg McElroy's 48 on the Wonderlic doesn't necessarily translate. (US Presswire)  
But he proved that he is smart enough for the NFL, for what that may be worth, and with that in mind, let us say, "Who gives a damn?"

I know this is Run In Your Underwear Week in Indianapolis, and one suspects that there is no more degrading moment in North American professional sports that doesn't involve a mug shot at 3:30 a.m.

But the Wonderlic is part of that humiliat-o-thon, and even the test's inventor's daughter has dismissed the NFL's reliance on that brain-related rubric as incomplete (she has her own test that she says complements Dad's four-door Wonderlic with a two-door brainbox Maserati, but be your own judge on that).

Oh, and full disclosure: She told that to Kent Babb of the Kansas City Star, whose own Wonderlic is considered high for his profession.

Moreover, it has been every bit as accurate a predictor of quarterback brilliance as nostril volume or skill on the accordion. And frankly, we like that.

Well, let us be more specific. We like the fact that quarterback remains the least predictable job in all of sports, and the NFL, which relies most heavily on technological rubrics, hasn't figured it out yet.

In short, as this relates to Greg McElroy, let us say this. It's better to do well on a test than to do poorly, but if the test can't predict greatness, then it doesn't really help that much.

But we feel the same way about the combine in general. The league believes that you can measure football players down the molecular level, but what it actually has done has proved only that the NFL can monetize anything. The combine is now programming gold ... well, OK, programming zinc.

And that's with the combine's obvious holes.

The combine's value, frankly, is that it brings almost all the prospects together for the guys with eyes to see for themselves. They get to kick, speak to and make personal evaluations of the tires, and re-prove their own Wonderlic scores.

Smarts, you see, can't be measured except in the standings, and then only over years of input -- sort of like the way it's been since time immemorial.

Thus, we can report with some comfort that Greg McElroy's test score might actually make him a pretty good capologist, team counsel, maybe even a general manager. He might also be a good quarterback, but the Wonderlic won't help with that.

Also, running in his underwear won't do that either, unless he's being hired for something we're completely uncomfortable imagining. That, though, is a story for Or Comrade Judge.

In any event, well done to him. He will dominate Scrabble, Sudoku and any other organized team activities that no team would ever organize. Plus, he has an in with teams hiring future suits -- at least once the owners decide that a 2011 season is preferable to not having one. There is no need for a cap specialist when there are no players with salaries to cap.

Now maybe he'll also be a useful quarterback, but that 48 isn't going to be terribly valuable in proving that. But even if it all goes wrong for him on the field (most likely, if he's drafted by a bad team with a crummy offensive line), he's got a hell of a predictably bright future as a league-approved test proctor.

And he can also have televised debates with Eldon Wonderlic's daughter. Hey, the NFL Network is going to be running a little thin this summer, and Running In Your Underwear Week doesn't have much of a shelf life.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay


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