If NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to wield more of the considerable power he is not afraid to use, he might want to look into who exactly leaked the Wonderlic score for LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne.
Because whoever did it was wrong. On several fronts.
First, the Wonderlic – which provides a brief assessment of intelligence on a particular day – is supposed to be confidential. Leaking a score like this is self-serving garbage, intended only to hurt someone unnecessarily.
There were many – including Brian Billick on Twitter – who theorized that an NFL team leaked it to discredit Claiborne so another team would not take him, which then would result in the team that leaked the score being able to draft him.
This is, at best, scurrilous.
Goodell should come down hard if that is indeed true.
Second, the test has nothing to do with playing football. Don’t believe me on that one. Believe a 2009 study by professors at Fresno State, Georgia and Towson State that found no connection between Wonderlic scores and a player’s performance in their first three years.
The study looked at classes in 2002, ’03 and ’04, and actually found that tight ends and defensive backs had an inverse relationship to their Wonderlic, according to the Washington Post.
In other words, the worse the score, the better the cornerback.
As John Telich of Fox 8 in Cleveland wrote: “If one team was hoping to hijack Claiborne’s Draft Express, they either got on the train at the wrong station, or missed it completely.”
And as Billick tweeted (shoot me for writing that word): “If great Wunderlic scores equaled on-field success, then Stanford and Northwestern would square off in the BCS Championship Game every year!”
Third, players take these tests assuming they will remain confidential. If I’m coming out of college and these scores are released, I might balk at taking it if it there is an issue with my score going public.
The day of the test I might be nervous, might be scared, might be sick. If that score is leaked, it embarrasses me to benefit someone else. That’s not right.
Which leads to the fourth and most important reason leaking this kind of thing was all wrong: Claiborne has a learning disability, according to former NFL scout Greg Gabriel of the National Football Post.
“When Claiborne came out of high school, the schools that recruited him knew he had a learning disability. I don’t know much about his disability other than it has to do with reading. Everyone I have talked to tells me that Claiborne has great character and is a great kid. He knows and understands his disability and uses all the resources that LSU has available to control it and to help him get by in the classroom. When it comes to football he puts in extra time to learn and understand his assignments and it is not a problem. Will he need reps? Probably, but no more than the usual rookie would need. In saying that, Claiborne’s test score was NOT a true indicator of his intelligence. He can and does learn.”
Claiborne came across very well at the Combine, which is the depth of my interaction with him. He was quiet, reserved, even a little humble. His smile was bright and he carried himself well.
He’s also a player. He will go in the top five, and he should be on the Browns radar because he is that good.
But leaking a score like that and drawing the immediate conclusion that a guy is dumb is unfair and wrong – especially if he has a learning disability that affects his ability to process information quickly as he reads. In this light, making fun of him for his score is like making fun of the way someone talks because they have a lisp.
It’s nasty, about as low as it gets.
Instead of criticizing or ridiculing the guy, maybe people should be looking at Claiborne as an example of how to get past difficulties, and how to struggle through.
If it’s true, credit Claiborne.
And let Goodell handle the leakers.