Darren Rovell jersey

The Wonderlic test has been highly criticized for its use in evaluating NFL players. Particular examples come from a 2014 Harvard Sports Analysis Collective article concluding “a quarterback’s score on the Wonderlic Test does not serve as a significant predictor for any of the metrics we analyzed” and a 2016 Sporting News piece summarizing various academic studies that all bashed the Wonderlic’s relevance to football, with one saying it “does not appear to have utility in the professional football arena.” Those are just a few of the pieces and studies concluding it isn’t useful.

That doesn’t stop many media members from reporting and repeating leaked Wonderlic scores, though, and the latest to do the latter (while throwing in a clipping of average Wonderlic scores for other professions) is ESPN’s Darren Rovell (seen above). However, after doing so, Rovell took major public backlash from ESPN colleague Bomani Jones. Here are the tweets in question:

Rovell later admitted that the test isn’t a perfect predictor of NFL success, and said he’s “surprised test is even given anymore”:

That raises questions of why he thought the Fournette/Cook scores were worth repeating and why he thought it was worth mentioning the lowest scores ever (which, as he later noted, may have been thanks to those players’ learning disabilities):

We also got the most Rovellian defense of all Rovellian defenses; big businesses do it, so logically it must be good and work.

This brings up an important hypothetical question:

No response to that one yet. That’s obviously taking things to the extreme, but the point is that information doesn’t have value to the public just because of the source. In fact, having particular information reported often has more value to the source than it does to the public; getting a particular factoid or viewpoint out there can advance the source’s agenda, or alter decisions made by others. And this is always a possibility with things like the NFL draft; yes, reporting or repeating players’ Wonderlic scores probably won’t affect where a player is taken too much, as teams aren’t usually too reliant on media or public reaction, but this can be a minor factor. A team can pass on a player and have that decision defended by those who buy “He had a low Wonderlic,” or take a player who didn’t put up as high stats or physical testing metrics and have that decision defended because of his Wonderlic score. And yet, those scores have as much correlation to NFL success as purple monkey dishwasher.

It’s easy to agree with Jones here; there doesn’t seem to be a lot of point in Rovell sharing these Wonderlic numbers, especially with him somewhat questioning the test too. However, this wasn’t even the most spectacular criticism of Rovell this week. That would be this one from Wednesday:

We’ll be waiting for Rovell to offer betting lines on next year’s prospects’ Wonderlic scores.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.