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THE SPORTING EQUIVALENCY: WILL SHORTZ

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Will Shortz turns 56 today. Talk about a monopoly on one industry, eh? Shortz is the only known person to hold a degree in enigmatology (the study of puzzles) after he created a program for himself at Indiana. He edits one of the most popular puzzles in the world, and his abilities have landed him on Oprah's couch—and in our video player. Bonus: Wordplay is an amazing movie. We're turning Sporting Equivalency to Mr. Shortz. What's a seven-letter word for championship catcher?

Will Shortz's MLB Equivalent: Jason Varitek

Follow us here: Shortz is a smart dude (you try making that puzzle regularly for years). He was at UVA Law (prestigious!) but left to get into puzzle-creating. We'd argue Varitek is the smartest guy in MLB, and not just because one of our bosses is a Sox fan. The guy didn't go to Dartmouth like Ausmus (although G-Tech is a good school), but he has caught more no-no's than anyone, is a rock of leadership for a team with two titles in the past four years and at this point in his career, probably hits the long ball as effectively as Shortz. Hey, we kid because we love.

Will Shortz's NBA Equivalent: Emeka Okafor

We'll be honest: we don't have a strong connection here. Okafor seems incredibly smart (he had a 3.8 at UConn, as well as a national title). His first name means "God has done well," which seems like a cool crossword clue. Lists Toronto as one of his favorite NBA cities, an esoteric admission that makes us giggle with intellectual delight. Like a Shortz puzzle!

Will Shortz's NFL Equivalent: John Lynch

No, no. Shortz can't hit like Lynch (few can). Here's our logic: a few surveys have called Lynch among the smartest players in the NFL. We figure greatness moves upward, so much like Shortz's progression from Penny Press Magazine to The New York Times, Lynch eventually found his way to the New England Patriots and Bill Belichick. Say whatcha will about Belichick, but the dude is going to deploy Lynch in some amazing ways. Chad Pennington should be fearful.

Will Shortz's College Football Equivalent: Brian Cushing

Specious logic here: you know where Shortz grew up? An Arabian horse farm! (Cool!) One of the horses that the Trojans use for their mascot is an Arabian horse! Awesome. Cushing is going to blow up this year, just like Shortz will (puzzles are always cooler in Presidential election years.)

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