Dumbed Down
July 30, 2019

Lineman Joe Thuney purposefully bombed his Wonderlic because he was worried he'd be too smart for the Patriots

New England Patriots v Tennessee Titans

Wesley Hitt

Football isn't a thinking man's sport. Sure, the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady get daily drool baths for their ability to Break Down Tape and Study The Playbook, but by and large it's a sport for terminators—unthinking, unblinking machines who toe the front-office line, move the chains, and maybe knock some fellow terminator heads off while they're at it. In recent years, the likes Josh Rosen and Rashard Mendenhall have been criticized for thinking too much, with the former taking a bit of nosedive in the 2018 thanks to his UCLA coach Jim Mora telling the world, "He needs to be challenged intellectually so he doesn't get bored. He's a millennial. He wants to know why."

Boy, what a loser.

It appears the rest of the NFL has gotten then message too: Don't be a smart guy, a smart-ass, or a smarty pants. Don't stand out, blend in. Don't be Vince Young, but definitely don't get caught reading Kafka in the locker room lest you want to find yourself discussing the global impact of Chinese trade tariffs in the XFL come April. Just ask Patriots lineman Joe Thuney, who recently revealed that he purposefully tanked his 2016 Wonderlic, answering only 39 of 50 questions in an effort not to spook teams like the Pats, who pride themselves on thinking drinking water prevents sunburns and employed a man named Gronk for nine seasons.

According to Thuney, he was advised to only answer less than 80 percent of Wonderlic questions, which he did, getting 39 of 39 correct. So much for keeping that big, beautiful brain a secret. The play-dumb strategy still payed off for the Campbell Trophy winner, however, with Thuney eventually getting selected 78th overall, 13 picks ahead of his teammate Jacoby Brissett, who recently wondered whether the sun actually hot, because if it was, how could space be cold?

We assumed Brissett was being serious at the time, but after Thuney's story, now we're not so sure. For the good of humankind, we hope this was all a front, too.