Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Updated: March 1, 11:37 AM ET
Why Vince Young deserves an 'F'
By Bomani Jones
Special to Page 2
Vincent Young might be as dumb as a sack of hammers. That's what most people took from the rumor of his subliterate score on the Wonderlic test at the NFL combine.
You know what? Those people are probably right -- though not for that reason.
A low score on that test would mean a lot more if quarterbacks were asked to calculate the dimensions of a vat of water while in the pocket. Perhaps the NFL could personalize its Wonderlic questions to ask things like, "If your team wears white and the opponent wears red, who are the guys in stripes?"
But it doesn't.
That the Wonderlic means diddly-poo about football is probably why an old buddy of mine from graduate school, McDonald Mirabile, found that Wonderlic scores have no statistical link to a quarterback's earnings.
No, the real problem is that Young had no one on his payroll show him the test before the combine.
On a test on which a score of 10 is deemed "literate," Young was rumored to have scored a 6. So for a couple of days, Young was subjected to the embarrassment of people questioning whether he was literally retarded. The reports of a 6 were refuted, but he probably didn't do much better. If he did, the denials of the 6 would have come attached with an actual score. Young did score a 16 on the second try, but that's still below what most execs look for from a quarterback.
This is all Young's agent's fault.
Any agent worth his percentage has drilled his client repeatedly on strategies for getting a high score on the test -- especially an agent representing a player whose stock could do nothing but fall. Standardized tests are all about knowing the test. That Young and his agent knew the test was coming and did nothing to prepare for it is inexcusable.
Young, however, does not have a traditional agent. He's represented by Major Adams, a criminal attorney in Houston and a friend of the Young family. When asked by Chip Brown of the Dallas Morning News why he chose Adams as his agent -- and his uncle, a middle school teacher and coach, as his business manager -- Young said, "They know what I want, the things that I believe in. They know where I'm trying to go, the things I want to do for the community."
Too bad there's no reason to believe they know how to get those things. His advisors, who must have been recommended by MC Hammer Consulting, didn't tell him that wearing a sweatshirt to the White House isn't the way to get where he wants to go.
The Wonderlic score, combined with things like that, is a recipe to fall to the middle of the first round.
|Vince Young probably never wants to hear the word 'Wonderlic' again. (John Harrell/AP Photo)|
In the grand scheme of things, no one cares whether a football player is smart. There's something wildly ironic about people questioning whether someone is smart enough to do a job in which a man with children who continues playing football after having a stroke is lavished with praise, and which celebrates those who risk permanent injury while playing with broken bones.
That's not what smart people do, no matter how smart the Wonderlic says some of these guys are.
In adulthood, results are all that matter. And results are primarily the result of hard work and good judgment. The work ethic that keeps a quarterback in the film room late at night is what prepares him to identify coverages. No matter how smart someone is, it's repetition that prepares him. Smarts will get you nowhere else without elbow grease.
No one with a passing familiarity with Texas football questions Young's work ethic. Especially not Colt McCoy or Jevan Snead, the competitors for Young's old job who find themselves throwing to their receivers every night because that's what Young did last summer.
Judgment is the wild card with Vince. It's simply defined -- the basic ability to tell a good idea from a bad one -- but nearly impossible to measure. Until Big Brother invents a machine that knows exactly what factors people weigh when they make decisions (assuming he hasn't, of course), the only way to gauge someone's judgment is from the things we see them do.
|Young didn't suit up for meeting the President. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo)|
And it seems Young's judgment needs improvement.
If nothing else, his disastrous trip to the combine showed he's made a bad decision in choosing his representation. Adams represents gospel star Yolanda Adams, and he negotiated Michael Lewis' contract when he was drafted by the Eagles in 2002. But Adams is in way over his head with Young.
Young is the most interesting prospect ever to hit the draft, even more so than Michael Vick in 2001. He's a quarterback with prototypical size, running back speed and an arm that's strong or accurate, but rarely both simultaneously. But even with that fundamental weakness, he is the Moses of Texas football. He was so good that casual observers didn't notice how loaded the Longhorns' roster was, that Young was the centerpiece of what many considered the most loaded recruiting class ever. He drips with the intangibles and leadership that great quarterbacks must have, and he does it all with a Montana-esque cool under fire.
Even though he has more of a 12-gauge than a rifle, that should spell a boatload of money for Vince, right? Sorta, according to Adams.
In that same interview with the Dallas Morning News, Adams was asked whether he was qualified to negotiate Young's contract. "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."
Who are "they"?
If it's as easy as that, we should all go to agent school.
If salaries were really slotted like that, players wouldn't get to training camp late. If it were that easy, teams at the top of the draft wouldn't feel the need to negotiate with players before the draft. And surely contracts wouldn't be full of wrinkles, clauses, incentives, voidable years, roster bonuses and a bunch of other things that sound complicated to folks who work by the hour. If negotiating any NFL contract were that easy, agents would be the Maytag repairmen of the legal profession.
Young's choice of Adams was the stupid thing that should scare teams away -- not some test. It was a bad agent that started the Terrell Owens debacle in Philadelphia. Indirectly, it was a bad agent that got Ricky Williams into his mess in Miami. (Had Ricky signed a decent deal in New Orleans, he wouldn't have money problems.) In a delayed way, drafting Young may mean getting Drew Rosenhaus or a Bob Sugar type involved in a few years.
Young's Wonderlic scores should give teams pause about selecting him in the draft. But it doesn't matter a lick whether he's stupid. All that matters is whether he possesses the judgment to avoid doing stupid things. Right now, his judgment isn't looking so good.
And that will -- and should -- cost him more than flunking a stupid test.
Bomani Jones is a frequent contributor to Page 2. Tell him how you feel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|No one doubts Young's athletic ability. But his judgment's in question. (David J. Phillip/AP Photo)|