Brian Lyons interviewed by ESPN's FiveThirtyEight website

The associate professor of management was interviewed about his research on intelligence and performance of NFL players.

Brian Lyons, associate professor of management in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, was interviewed for an article by FiveThirtyEight ( titled, “How A Multiple-Choice Test Became A Fixture Of The NFL Draft.”

The article discussed the correlation of NFL players’ performance and intelligence, as measured by the Wonderlic test, a multiple choice test that is supposed to measure the intelligence of professional football player prospects each winter. The article discussed that Lyons’ research, through examining the Wonderlic scores of 762 NFL players, found there was little correlation between the scores and the players’ on-field performance. The only exceptions were the positions of tight-ends and defensive backs. 

Lyons’ research that was originally published in, “On the predictive efficiency of past performance and physical ability: The case of the National Football League,” which appeared in the April 2011 edition of Human Performance.

The research paper’s abstract reads:

“This study investigated the criterion-related validity of past performance and physical ability tests over time in a physically demanding context, the National Football League (NFL). Results suggested that an indicator of past performance, collegiate performance, engendered a stronger relationship with future NFL performance than a variety of physical ability tests administered during the NFL Combine. Unlike physical ability, past performance remained a valid predictor across four years of the criterion domain; however, the validity coefficients eventually deteriorated over time, following a simplex pattern commonly found with general mental ability tests. Implications germane to staffing research and practice are discussed.”

Lyons co-authored the research with Brian James Hoffman, associate professor of psychology and program chair of the Industrial-Organizational Program at the University of Georgia, John W. Michel, assistant professor of management at Loyola University Maryland, and Kevin J. Williams, vice provost and dean for graduate studies at University at Albany State University of New York.

FiveThirtyEight, affiliated with ESPN, uses statistical analysis — hard numbers — to tell compelling stories about politics, sports, science, economics and lifestyle.