The Payne Train: A new and better Wonderlic

Seth Payne
Shutdown Corner

Selected in the fourth round of the 1997 NFL draft by theJacksonville Jaguars out of Cornell, former NFL defensive lineman Seth Payne played five years for the Jags, and five more for the Houston Texans. Since leaving the game after the 2006 season, Seth has been honing his writing skills, and has proven to be a real treat on Twitter with his football knowledge and wicked sense of humor. He'll bring both to Shutdown Corner on a regular basis.

Back in 1990, a band by the name of Extreme had a hit song called "More Than Words," a slow and tender acoustic love song.  Teenage girls and soccer moms alike rushed out to buy the CD.  What they soon discovered was that while Extreme had made a great love song with mass appeal, most of their music was aggressive heavy metal that appealed mostly to angry teenage boys.

I fear that my last column, about my emotional attachment to the game of football, is going to set some readers up for exactly that experience.  I pulled on their heartstrings with a sentimental piece that revealed my vulnerable side, and now they're going to discover the real me. They'll find that I'm like a raw oyster, containing a small pearl of wisdom, but otherwise, a mass of unpalatable goop.  Some readers are saying, "No, no, raw oysters are in fact quite tasty."

Those readers are sick bastards.

The fact of the matter is that I spend most of my day trying to sort out and make sense of my absurd, senseless inner monologue.  Here at Shutdown Corner I will occasionally let you peek into that chaotic jumble of haphazardly firing brain cells.

Those brain cells once performed adequately for me on a test called the Wonderlic, which is the intelligence test administered by the NFL every year at the national scouting combine.  Over the years the Wonderlic has been the subject of controversy as critics have questioned the ability of a paper and pencil test to predict on field football intelligence.  For instance, my Wonderlic score didn't predict that I'd be dumb enough to commit three penalties in one quarter against the Bills, yet I was.

I've always felt that a more accurate intelligence test would combine some elements of the Wonderlic with real world scenarios from the life of an NFL player.  So I present to you the first five questions from my proposed Football Intelligence Quotient exam.

1. You've just been fined by the team for missing a workout.  The fine will not be made public. What should you do?

a)      Tweet a picture of the fine with a sympathy inspiring caption that says, "Don't they know I got kids to feed?"  (This was used recently with splendid results).
b)      To forget about the whole incident, Tweet a direct message picture of your genitals to an intern.  Mistakenly make it public.
c)       Tweet that the strength coach is lying.  Cling to your accusation even after being confronted with security camera footage that shows the exact time you entered the facility. [I actually witnessed a version of this before the days of Twitter]
d)      Tweet nothing and show up early for your next workout.

2. For various reasons, you decide to cheat on your wife.  What is your first course of action?

a)      Sign up on that website advertised on the radio that makes an extramarital affair sound like a straightforward proposition.  What could go wrong? It's guaranteed!
b)      Buy some condoms, and remember to save the receipt.  This may be tax deductible.
c)       Stock up on Ambien.  Some claim that it enhances sex and makes for clever and eventful texting.
d)      Rethink cheating on your wife.

3. As a rookie, you'll face an incredible amount of pressure and scrutiny.  What is the best way to take a breather?

a)      Find a hobby, like opening a restaurant.  It seems like a simple enough business, and your unemployed cousin has the time to run it.
b)      Take an interest in your alma mater's football program.  Those kids could use some advice, not to mention extra cash.
c)       A relaxing massage.  But don't waste money by going to a licensed massage therapist.  Look for one with a crudely painted particle board sign that says something about hot oil.
d)      Golf.

4. You are approached by a guy in a white coat who calls himself a doctor.  He offers to sell you a revolutionary new vitamin injection that will help you add muscle mass and recover more quickly.  What should you do?

a)      Check the policy on banned substances, but ignore the part that says you are responsible for everything that goes in your body even if it's labeled improperly.  Don't ask the team medical staff for advice.  Now go for it!
b)      Pay with a check or credit card.  You'll need a paper trail if you want a refund later.
c)       See if he'll throw some of that undetectable synthetic pot into the deal.
d)      Run away!

5. You spend five years with the team that drafts you.  You are loved by fans and you've laid down roots in the community.  Your wife and children love it there.  Unfortunately, when you enter free agency the team is barely under the salary cap and is unable to make a remotely competitive offer, so you sign elsewhere.  How should you open up the press conference in your new city?

a)      "It wasn't about the money." Act surprised and hurt when people don't believe you.
b)      "The fans never appreciated me there." Act surprised and hurt when people take offense.
c)       "I wanted to go to a team where they're committed to winning, unlike some places." Say it with a smirk and remember to act surprised and hurt when the previous city's writers "take it out of context."
d)      "I had an incredible experience with [former team] and I wish them the best. "  Be as gracious as possible, but don't act surprised or hurt when people are still angry.

This is just the beginning.  The best exam would include real-life simulations.  Perhaps during the forty yard dash a player could run through a gauntlet of process servers and shady financial planners while being chased by test tube wielding paternity testers.  The possibilities are endless.

Oh, and the correct answers are all "d," unless it's a slow news day.

More Payne Train:
Missing Football
The Vegan Monologues
What Minicamps Don't Tell You

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