We’re headquartered on the Stanford campus this week, which has brought to mind one of our favorite football scouting reports ever: John Clayton’s strangely damning take on Kwame Harris, an All-Pac-10 offensive lineman for the Cardinal in the early part of the millennium. Clayton loved Harris’s arms, technique, and strength, but didn’t likehis head—and not because of any lackluster Wonderlic scores, either. No, Clayton’s biggest negative was:
Harris is so intelligent that some teammates have a hard time relating to him.
This stuck in our memory for a host of reasons. The biggest one is probably that we’re so accustomed to having “intelligence” lauded as the be all and end all of workplace attributes. And, certainly, success requires the sorts of critical-thinking skills associated with high IQs. But as Clayton implied, can vast differences in intelligence among co-workers lead to dissension? Collegiality can be vital to success, too, particularly in an endeavor such as pro football—as so many ex-players have remarked, you want to enter an extremely violent situation with men who feel like your brothers to some extent. If someone on the team is isolated because their brain operates differently, can that undermine the whole enterprise?
This also made us think about Lisa Simpson’s infamous happiness-versus-intelligence graph. Assuming that greater intelligence does indeed lead to more melancholy, you can see how a man of Harris’s tremendous brainpower might seem like an oddball in a locker room’s fratty atmosphere. Fart jokes only go so far when your idea of humor ranges more toward the comedic stylings of Aristophanes. (We covered a similar topic here, in a post exploring the correlation between literacy and suicide.)
We’re sad to report that Clayton was proved right in his skepticism about Harris’s pro prospects. The Stanford dominator turned into a journeyman in the NFL, and an object of much derision among fans. He’s currently looking for pigskin employment. At least he’s got that music degree to fall back on—though we reckon it’s tough to score a first-chair violin gig nowadays, too.