Part of the NFL scouting combine circus is the Wonderlic test. Alabama’s Greg McElroy, scored 48 out of 50, quite a high score. There is one commentator who suggests this may be a bad thing:
McElroy’s brainpower still has the potential be taken as a negative around the league, as explained by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:
That said, scoring too high can be as much of a problem as scoring too low. Football coaches want to command the locker room. Being smarter than the individual players makes that easier. Having a guy in the locker room who may be smarter than every member of the coaching staff can be viewed as a problem — or at a minimum as a threat to the egos of the men who hope to be able when necessary to outsmart the players, especially when trying in some way to manipulate them.
So while McElroy, who was unable to work out due to injury, may be really smart, he perhaps would have been wise to tank a few of the answers.
Wikipedia’s entry on this has a listing of average Wonderlic scores by NFL position according to a longtime NFL scribe. The average score for a quarterback is 24. It appears that McElroy’s score ranks amongst the highest known scores.
Football is known as having players who are warriors or gladiators. Even so, having a smart quarterback seems to me to be a good thing, rather than a negative because it might challenge the supremacy of the coach. With the complexity of offensive systems these days, particularly with the check-downs and need to read defensive coverages, a smart quarterback might help. This seems like a weird issue of masculinity: in a relatively violent sport, who gets to be smartest in the locker room?
There would be a way to possibly figure out whether this issue with the coach is real (granted that enough Wonderlic data is out there): how do Wonderlic scores compare with the number of coaches a quarterback has (and controlling for a bunch of other factors)? And more broadly, do higher Wonderlic scores translate into more victories?