Football Legends Revealed #2

This is the second in a series of examinations of football-related legends and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of all the previous football legends.

Let’s begin!

FOOTBALL LEGEND: Ryan Fitzpatrick scored a perfect 50 on his Wonderlic test.

STATUS: False

Ryan Fitzpatrick was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He played college football at Harvard University.

Fitzpatrick has been a back-up quarterback in the NFL ever since 2005, first for the Rams then the Bengals and currently for the Buffalo Bills.

Fitzpatrick made headlines in 2005 when news leaked about his performance on the Wonderlic test.

The Wonderlic test is a standard aptitude test that many professions give prospective employees, but it has gained most of its fame from the fact that the NFL gives it to players eligible to be drafted.

Here are some sample questions (courtesy of the Professor Money website):

1. Look at the row of numbers below. What number should come next? ___________

8 4 2 1 1/2 1/4 ?

2. Assume the first two statements are true.

1. The boy plays baseball.
2. All baseball players wear hats.
3. The boy wears a hat

Is the final one:
True
False
Not Certain

3. Paper sells for 21 cents per pad. What will four pads cost? ___________

4. How many of the five pairs listed below are exact duplicates? ___________

Nieman, K. M. / Neiman, K. M.

Thomas, G. K. / Thomas, C. K.

Hoff, J. P. / Hoff, J. P.

Pino, L. R. / Pina, L. R.

Warner, T. S. / Wanner, T. S.

5. PRESENT/RESERVE, Do these words:

have similar meanings;
have contradictory meaning;
mean neither the same nor opposite?

While they might not be the most difficult questions in the world, there IS a speed element to the test – it is how many questions you can answer in twelve minutes. Since there are 50 questions, that’s not a lot of time, even if the questions are simple.

As a result, very few players ever score perfect scores. A very smart person wouldn’t automatically score a perfect 50.

When Fitzpatrick was drafted, a report on the NFL’s website said that he had scored a perfect 50.

That was incorrect, as Fitzpatrick noted that he had left off an answer, although Fitzpatrick WAS notable in the sense that he answered the 49 questions that he did answer in 9 minutes (why he wouldn’t answer the last question if he had 3 minutes left is beyond me).

Punter/wide receiver Pat McInally (also a Harvard graduate) is the only NFL player to ever be confirmed as receiving a 50 on the Wonderlic.

FOOTBALL LEGEND: The Steelers and the Eagles combined teams for a season.

STATUS: True

During World War II, the National Football League was having trouble with keeping their rosters afloat. The military draft had a number of deferments, but even with those deferments, rosters were decimated (and forgot about a draft – any graduated college players went right into the military).

In 1943, Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney saw his team’s roster dwindle down to six active players.

Looking across the state to the Philadelphia Eagles, whose owner Alexis Thompson had 16 players, Rooney thought that the two teams could team up and play as one team for the 1943 season.

Thompson had reservations, as did the rest of the league (worrying that this would create a “super-team”), but he eventually agreed and so did the rest of the NFL, provided that the merged team would not qualify for the playoffs.

Since Thompson was in a better bargaining position, the team was officially known as the Philadelphia Eagles – the Steelers just sort of temporarily merged into the Eagles, but that name was only used in Philadelphia, everyone else called them the Eagle-Steelers or the Steeler-Eagles or the Steagles, for short.

Interestingly enough, as the two teams’ respective head coaches, Philadelphia’s Greasy Neale and Pittsburgh’s Walt Kiesling, shared coaching duties, the pair hated each other so much that they decided to just split up the duties – Neale would coach offense and Kiseling would coach defense. Thus, the Steagles inadvertently originated the notion of offensive and defensive coordinators, which are still used today by all NFL teams.

Here’s a program from that season…

The team went 5-4-1, but attendance was at an all-time high, so the gambit worked.

The next season, the NFL expanded to 11 teams, but the commissioner felt that 11 was a bad number for a sports league, so he asked NFL teams if they were willing to merge again for the next season. Thompson was not willing to repeat the experiment, but Rooney agreed to merge with the Chicago Cardinals for a season.

The team, dubbed Card-Pitt, was terrible, and the name Card-Pitt was equated to “carpet,” as all the other teams walked all over them – the team went 0-10.

The next season, two other teams (the Boston Yanks and the Brooklyn Tigers) permanently merged together, giving the league an even number of teams again, so the Steelers and Cardinals went their separate ways.

Amusingly enough, the Steelers and the Cardinals would meet again, just earlier this year, in a dramatic Super Bowl XLIII match up (that the Steelers won)!

FOOTBALL LEGEND: The Super Bowl is named after the Super Ball.

STATUS: True

In the late 1960s, the National Football League and the American Football League began working on a merger of the two leagues. The merger would go slowly but surely, but would begin with the two leagues competing in a championship game at the end of the season similar to the World Series (which pits the American League against the National League) in baseball.

The first championship game took place on January 15, 1967, where the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs. The game, at the time, was not called the Super Bowl, but simply the AFL–NFL World Championship Game.

During merger meetings that went on at the time (as the two leagues were still finalizing plans for the merger – the merger had only been agreed on six months earlier), there was debate over what they should call the championship game. Baseball had the “World Series,” so what should football have?

NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle wanted to call it “The Big One.”

However, it was a term coined by Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt that ended up sticking (here’s Hunt alongside legendary Chiefs coach Hank Stram – Hunt is on the left)…

Hunt saw one of his children playing with a Super Ball (a bouncy ball toy from Wham-O, makers of Frisbee and the Hula Hoop) and it occurred to him that that would be a nice play on the college football “bowl game,” which in turn got its name from the Rose Bowl (which, in turn, got its name from being a stadium that looks like a bowl).

So the term “Super Bowl” was coined and it caught on, and starting with the third championship game, it was the name officially given to the game, and has stuck ever since!

Hunt’s child’s Super Ball is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

6 Responses to “Football Legends Revealed #2”

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