Toby Gerhart stands as an albatross, carrying the heavy burden of being the lone white running back to be considered a top draft pick for the National Football League (NFL) in years.
The Heisman Trophy runner-up and Doak Walker award winner is the inconvenient beneficiary of genes from a white female and a white male, a lethal combination for any ambitious white high school or collegiate running back hoping for an NFL career:
They will usually accept the backhanded compliments without complaint: "Hey, you're pretty fast for a white dude." They will smile when they get tagged with a nickname like Eminem or K-Fed. (Get it? They're Caucasian guys trying to do what African-Americans tend to do better.) White running backs will take all the good-natured teasing you've got, and they'll ask for only one thing in return -- the football.
Doesn't seem like much, does it? Just give them the ball and with it the chance to prove that productive rushers come in more than one shade. But coaches don't seem to have that handoff in their playbook. You're more likely to see Bill Belichick dance the hokeypokey on the sideline than find a white tailback in the NFL. There isn't a single white feature back on any of the 32 teams; the Bengals' Brian Leonard leads all white rushers in carries, with 25 (for 67 yards). White running backs break through slightly more often on the college level, where Stanford's Toby Gerhart leads in the nation in rushing -- but there is only one other white back, Nevada's Luke Lippincott, among the top 50 ground-gainers. Of the BCS teams Stanford is the only one whose primary running back is white.
Maybe you're thinking that the racial imbalance is because Caucasian backs just can't keep up. You watch Adrian Peterson and Maurice Jones-Drew and say, "Find me a white runner who can do that." But there's plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that white backs haven't been competing just against other players; they've also been battling the perception that they're not cut out for the job. Four years ago Gerhart was a hotshot at Norco (Calif.) High, visiting USC on a recruiting trip with fellow runners C.J. Gable and Stafon Johnson, who are black. The Trojans told Gerhart they would love to have him -- as an outside linebacker or a fullback to block for guys like Johnson and Gable
Thus, Gerhart is a "Great White Hope": that individual who comes along every half century who gives the majority of fans who purchases tickets (white people) hope that they will have someone who looks like them to cheer for, as opposed to a professional baby-maker like Travis Henry.
Strangely, Gerhart was being projected as fullback for the NFL, despite his insane 2009 numbers as a tailback for the Stanford Cardinal. That was until he put up incredible numbers at the NFL Combine, that compare him to 1st Round tailbacks from the past few years:
03/03/10 - Toby Gerhart had heard all the stories about exhausting interviews, endless medical tests and stressful on-field drills — about the NFL scouting combine being a nerve-racking experience for draft prospects. "I thought it was fun," Gerhart said Monday. "I had a real good time." In more ways than one. The highlight of Gerhart's four days in Indianapolis was running the 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds — fast enough to silence the skeptics, impress the scouts and solidify his status as one of the top tailbacks in the draft.
"For me, there was a lot riding on the 40, because the big question mark was the speed," Gerhart said. —I just told myself, 'Stay relaxed and do what you do. Don't try to overrun.' " Anything over 4.6 seconds and Gerhart, a power runner who weighs 231 pounds, would have been projected as a fullback — and fallen several rounds in the draft. But the 40-yard-dash time, combined with impressive results in the bench press and vertical leap, place Gerhart firmly in the tailback grouping. His time, which he recorded Sunday, was faster than that of former Ohio State bruiser Chris Wells (4.59 seconds), who was drafted at the end of the first round by Arizona last year. - Jon Wilner, The Mercury News
Speed and brawn are a lethal combination, but packaged in the body of a white tailback create a potential marketing sensation for whichever NFL picks him up. Worse, Gerhart deemed the Wonderlic Test (the bane of many Black potential NFL participants) "easy", as he scored a phenomenal 30, a score many deviations ahead of the individuals who run the ball for a living in the NFL:
It looks like that Stanford education is already starting to pay dividends for running back Toby Gerhart.
The Heisman Trophy finalist—who led the country in rushing yards (1,871) and touchdowns (28) in 2009—brought home the top score in the Wonderlic exam among this year’s running back class with a 30, according to a league source.
The Wonderlic test is a 12-minute, 50 question exam aimed at evaluating a prospect’s problem-solving abilities.
There has been much debate (especially from our readers) as to whether or not the test has any real significance in determining how a college football player will perform at the next level.
Some of the other top performers among the running backs include BYU’s Manase Tonga (29), LSU’s Charles Scott (26), Tennessee’s Montario Hardesty (25), Mississippi State’s Anthony Dixon (25) and North Dakota State’s Pat Paschall (25).
Rounding out the bottom of the class was Clemson’s C.J. Spiller, who scored a 10.
Other Notable Scores
Jahvid Best (California): 24
LeGarrette Blount (Oregon): 16
Jonathan Dwyer (Georgia Tech): 17
Ryan Mathews (Fresno State): 16
Dexter McCluster (Ole Miss): 18
The Wonderlic Test is just that, a simple intelligence test that has no true predicative correlation with NFL success but merely provides fodder for sports writers and fans to debate the relative intelligence (or lack thereof) of the heroes they will cheer for on Sunday:
If the NFL draft is a meat market, the NFL draft combine is where the beef is weighed and measured. Beginning today in Indianapolis, and for several days, our future Sunday heroes will take a full physical, sit for X-rays, face an interview, bench press 225 pounds for show and dough, jump broadly and vertically, and run the 40. And, of course, they'll take the Wonderlic. (Click here, and you can take it, too.)Gerhart's score of a 30 places him in uncharted territory for a running back, who average a pedestrian 16 on the Wonderlic (which means most of those tailbacks you cheer for on Sunday would have the luxury of a security guard or warehouse worker as a vocation, save for their gift of running a football).
The Wonderlic is an IQ test with only 50 questions -- it's a short version of the longer test routinely given to kids. Players have just 12 minutes to take it, and most don't finish. But, in fact, the average NFL test-taker scores a little above average.
The first questions on the test are easy, but they get harder and harder.
An easy question: In the following set of words, which word is different from the others? 1) copper, 2) nickel, 3) aluminum, 4) wood, 5) bronze.
A tougher one: A rectangular bin, completely filled, holds 640 cubic feet of grain. If the bin is 8 feet wide and 10 feet long, how deep is it?
Some teams consider the test results critical. Others say they dismiss the results, except for players who score at the extremes. What's an extreme? Well, former Bengals punter and Harvard grad Pat McInally scored a perfect 50 -- the only NFL player known to do so -- while at least one player, it is rumored, scored a 1. Charlie Wonderlic Jr., president of Wonderlic Inc., says, "A score of 10 is literacy, that's about all we can say." If that's the case, more than a few pros are being delivered the Books-on-Tape version of the playbook.
Each year, about 2.5 million job applicants, in every line of work, take the Wonderlic. The average NFL combiner scores about the same as the average applicant for any other job, a 21. A 20 indicates the test-taker has an IQ of 100, which is average.
Some people disagree with the whole idea of IQ testing because they believe the tests are culturally biased and inaccurate. But Charlie Wonderlic doesn't make grand claims for the score derived from his test. "What the score does is help match training methods with a player's ability," he says. "It could be a playbook -- what is the best way to teach a player a play? On the field, the higher the IQ, the greater the ability to understand and handle contingencies and make sound decisions on the fly."
In general, says Wonderlic, "The closer you are to the ball, the higher your score."
This assessment roughly corresponds to the averages revealed, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, by an NFL personnel man in Paul Zimmerman's "The New Thinking man's Guide to Pro Football," which are:
Offensive tackles: 26
Tight Ends: 22
Middle linebackers: 19
Wide receivers: 17
The average scores in other professions look like this:
Bank teller: 22
Clerical Worker: 21
Security Guard: 17
CJ Spiller's score (a Black running back from Clemson) of 10 is qualified as "literate". Good for him!
Tim Tebow, the universally loathed quarterback from the University of Florida, scored a 22 and was universally chided for his "low" score, a tell-tale sign of his inability to grasp a complex NFL playbook (wait, we thought the Wonderlic was a predictor of NFL failure or success)?
Tebow is hated because he doesn't have the same complexion of Michael Vick and yet performs with a greater drive and determination than Ron Mexico had for his side venture of dog rearing.
Tebow's score of 22 on the Wonderlic is only 2 points off the quarterback average, and correlates to an IQ of between 100 - 105, as opposed to Vince Young's outstanding 15:
A Palm Beach Post writer claims to have the Wonderlic test scores of Tim Tebow and other notable QB prospects from this year's NFL Scouting Combine.There are those who would ditch the Wonderlic Test as an outdated method of testing intelligence, for when the scores are tallied a racial gap appears that mirrors the racial gap in learning between Black-and-white students at all levels of education.
Dolphins beat writer Edgar Thompson has posted the following comment on his Twitter page:
Gators QB Tim Tebow scored a 22 on his Wonderlic, Jimmy Clausen 23, Colt McCoy 25 and Sam Bradford 36 out of 50, per NFL source.
The Wonderlic Test is a 12-minute, 50-question test used to assess the aptitude and problem-solving abilities of NFL players.
If Thompson's source is correct, Tebow scored the lowest of the four big QB prospects in the draft.
Other noteworthy QB scores:
- Matthew Stafford - 38
- Mark Sanchez - 28
- Josh Freeman - 27
- Michael Vick - 20
- Dan Marino - 16
- Vince Young - 15
Such as the cases of Favre and Marino, a high Wonderlic score doesn't always equal NFL success.
Last year's first round draft pick for the Gators, Percy Harvin, also named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, scored a 12 on his Wonderlic test.
Eric Decker, a wide receiver prospect from the Big Ten's Minnesota Golden Gopher program, scored a 43 out of 50. He too, has the same calamitous skin condition that plagues both Gerhart's and Tebow's pro chances: white skin.
And with the NFL being a league that is 69 percent Black, continually drafting prospective employees who perform lowly on the Wonderlic Test seems an exercise in futility (considering that 78 percent of NFL players go bankrupt after they retire from the league, it is obvious economic literacy and saving money for the future is a low priority for Black players).
Tim Tebow is hated and bad-mouthed constantly by critics and scouts, because they see in the Heisman Trophy winner all of the hopes and dreams for solid Black quarterback in the frame of a white, overtly Christian gunslinger.
Toby Gerhart, that rare white running back that can't be shuttled to fullback, is not only a talented football player, but also is blessed with cognitive gifts that will rival accountants and lawyers for the franchise that eventually drafts him.
In The Blind Side, Michael Lewis relates a tale from the lips of Tom Lemming (one of the top high school football scouts... ever), and how any white high school tailback or receiver is automatically discriminated against. They have little chance for success and for being recruited by a top college (unlike the virtually illiterate Michael Oher or any Black football player not named Myron Rolle).
Stuff Black People Don't Like wishes both Tim Tebow and Toby Gerhart success in the upcoming NFL Draft. They are both outstanding players and young men who run counter to the prevailing trends noticeable in the league as chronicled by Jeff Benedict in his outstanding book Pros and Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL.