GMs in the all pro sports should avoid stupid players.
By Bill Smith
Pacman Jones can’t screw up his career fast enough. Alex Boone hasn’t even been drafted yet and is building his police file. There there is always Plaxico “I love the feeling of cold steel in my pants” Burress. That is a very small sample of dumb, dumber, and dumbest.
Not only do players have to be intelligent enough to learn the plays and execute them successfully, they can’t be stupid enough to get themselves in trouble.
There are several kinds of stupid! We will explore each of them and discuss the problems each brings to a team.
Wonderlick test stupid—Unless we are talking about a thinking position, I don’t care what a player‘s Wonderlick was. The positions I am concerned about test scores are in order of importance QB, MLB, (because they call O and D plays), C and FS (because the Center calls blocking assignments and audibles and the Free Safety sets the D backfield). That is pretty much it. When Vince Young QB Tennessee gets a 6 on the test (and he did in his first attempt), that is a HUGE PROBLEM! You get 2 points for spelling your name correctly and putting it in the right box on the form. When DT prospect Joe Gastasivitch from Whats-A-Matter U gets a 6, I could care less.
Football IQ stupid—This is a bigger problem. In pro ball even on D there is no “see ball; get ball” anymore. D players have to be able to feel the play and understand what the opponent is trying to do. On D, players to be effective have to recognize what is going on so they can make a tackle close to the line of scrimmage not 20 yards down field. The only way around this kind of stupid is film and field work. This is not knowledge you are born with, football IQ must be learned. Often this is an indication of a lack of work ethic. Someone that is not willing to spend the time in the film room is even less likely to practice hard and work out in the weight room.
Football Instinct stupid—There’s no fixing this. A player either has football instincts or they don’t. The instincts are born not developed. Instinct as used here is the ability of a player to naturally adapt to something in a game they have never seen before and make a play. It requires the ability to make a play without having to think. A player that always is standing beside the pile on D is not instinctive. The player that is always at the bottom of the pile having made the tackle is. The level of aggressiveness is a part of this. The Ravens have a saying—Won’t do is the same as Can’t do.
Off the field stupid—This is the worst of all types of stupid. Exhibit 1—Plaxico Burress. Exhibit 2—Pacman Jones. Exhibit 3—Donte Stallworth. Exhibit 4—Mike Vick. You get the idea. It seems to infect some of the better players on the team. And worst of all, it seems to be contagious. When one player gets away with stupid behavior that is not punished severely, other players in that locker room think they can get away with similar dumb moves. Often too, the moves by players may have as much to do with people the players associate with as their own proclivities for stupidity.
The number of really off the field stupid players seems to be growing. These guys are dumb enough to risk their careers and their money to their temper, bad judgment, and their choice of friends. The players seem to believe that if they are not charged with a crime they are fine. If you end up being involved with the police again and again, you are doing something wrong. We have seen that frequent involvement with the law usually ends up with a player being suspended or worse.
You can take the nickname Pacman out of the media but you can’t take the Pacman out of Adam Jones. The NFL has to make sure that guys like Jones, Stallworth and Vick never play in the league again. No second chances for that type of behavior let alone 3rd 4th or 5th chances. There are enough players that are not given a chance now that will respect themselves and the game. Every time an owner like Jerry Jones (Dallas) or Mike Brown (Cincinnati) wants to take a chance on a bad guy, it ends up hurting the game and the reputation of every other player in the league. It just is not worth it.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .
My email is [email protected]