By Michael Terrill @MichaelTerrill on July 24, 2014
A majority of athletes are smart, especially those who play sports professionally. For the most part, there just has to be a certain level of intelligence in order to be successful at the top level. Here’s a look at 20 athletes who are so incredibly smart that they will simply make you feel dumb.
Former Washington Redskins quarterback Heath Shuler didn’t have the successful NFL career he strived for. The good news for him was that he used his intelligence to make a lot of money in the real estate market. On top of that, he was a U.S. representative for North Carolina’s 11th congressional district for seven years.
Tim Green played linebacker for the Atlanta Falcons from 1986-1993. Over that span, he recorded 24 sacks. As amazing as that it is, it’s what he has done since his retirement from the NFL that’s astonishing. Green has authored three non-fiction books and 25 fiction books since 1993. He also practices law in New York State.
Former WWE wrestler Chris Nowinski may no longer be an athlete, but the Harvard graduate is still very much involved in sports. He serves as the president on the board of directors for Sports Legacy Institute, a company he co-founded that raises awareness for concussions in sports. The company is also based off the theory that concussions can lead to the neurodegenerative disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
NFL coaching staffs contain some of the most brilliant minds in sports. In fact, the game itself is all about out-smarting opponents. Essentially, football is one big chess match. Peyton Manning has been frustrating defensive coordinators for more than a decade due to his brilliance at the line of scrimmage. Manning is an intelligent man to begin with, but he would surely make you feel dumb when discussing football strategies.
NHL defenseman Douglas Murray speaks three languages, graduated from Cornell’s prestigious hotel administration program and he co-invented a hands-free three-spout keg tap that turned into the company Uber Dispensing Co.
Point guard Steve Nash earned a sociology degree from the University of Santa Clara. He applies the degree to his work as a philanthropist, which has helped countless people through the Steve Nash Foundation. He’s also a filmmaker and producer. In fact, he directed the ESPN 30 for 30 film Into the Wild.
Quarterback Alex Smith graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in Economics in just two years. Oh yeah, he also graduated with a 3.74 GPA. Do you have any idea how many classes this guy had to take a semester to graduate in just two years? He’s considering law school once he retires from the NFL.
The former boxer has a PhD in Sports Science and can speak five languages. He also plays chess when he isn’t polishing is 1996 Summer Olympic gold medal in the super heavyweight class.
Basketball player Pau Gasol has high aspirations in the medical field. I’m talking about curing AIDs type goals. Gasol frequently visits Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles where he has advanced conversations with doctors as if he’s a surgical colleague. He can also speak multiple languages.
Shane Battier graduated from Duke University with a 3.5 GPA. He’s fluent in German, and he has a high interest in finance and sabermetrics.
Former hockey goaltender Ken Dryden retired from the sport early so that he could earn a History degree from Cornell and a law degree from McGill University. He then pursued careers in politics, writing, teaching, and sports commentating.
Andrew Luck is considered to be one of the most intelligent quarterbacks in NFL history. He recorded a 3.48 GPA at Stanford University while pursuing an Environmental Engineering degree. He also is known to have a vast vocabulary that will stump even intellectuals.
Former Alabama signal caller Greg McElroy graduated with a Marketing degree and a 3.86 GPA in three years. He recorded a 1320 on his SAT, and he’s currently pursuing a master’s degree in Sports Management so that he can work in the front office of a NFL team. He also hasn’t ruled out law school or politics.
Matt Birk graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Economics. Right out of college, he was offered a job to work on Wall Street due to his expertise in economics. However, he decided to test his luck at football instead in which he was a six-time Pro Bowl selection with the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens.
Like Birk, Jeremy Lin graduated with a degree in Economics from Harvard University. He’s widely considered to be one of the most intelligent players in the NBA.
Former USC and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Pat Haden earned a B.A. magna cum laude degree from USC, Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School and an economics degree from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.
Hockey player George Parros is a Princeton graduate with an Economics degree that he earned with a 3.18 GPA. He wrote his senior thesis on the West Coast longshoremen’s labor dispute. Sporting News named him the fourth-smartest athlete in sports just a few years ago.
Ryan Newman is considered to be the smartest NASCAR driver of all time. The Purdue graduate earned a degree in Vehicular Structural Engineering. In fact, he works with the engineers on his crew in order to help with his racecar.
Starting pitcher Chris Young graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Politics. If his 1300 SAT score doesn’t impress you, then maybe this will: He completed his senior thesis, The Impact of Jackie Robinson and the Integration of Baseball on Racial Stereotypes in America: A Quantitative Content Analysis of Stories about Race in The New York Times, while he was still pitching in the minor leagues.
Sean Bedford took the SAT when he was in the seventh grade and recorded a score of 1130. He then took it again as a sophomore in high school and got a 1400. His third and final score that he recorded as a senior was an incredible 1520. So, what’s the kicker? Bedford never studied for the SAT once in his entire life. He graduated with degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Public Policy, and minors in Law Science and Technology with a 3.8 GPA.
Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick recorded a 48 on the Wonderlic test in just nine minutes, which turned out to be the highest score in NFL history. If that wasn’t enough, he also posted an astonishing 1580 on his SAT. He used that impressive score to help him earn an Economics degree from Harvard.
Bill Bradley is a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford and graduated magna cum laude at Princeton University. Since retiring from basketball, he served three terms as a Democratic Senator from New Jersey. He has worked as an investment banker, corporate consultant, and he’s a member of the board of directors of Starbucks. Oh yeah, he also was strongly considered for the Democratic Party’s Presidential nomination in 2000.
Pitcher Craig Breslow is a graduate of Yale where he earned degrees in Biochemistry and Biophysics. He decided to postpone his acceptance to the NYU School of Medicine in order to pursue his passion for baseball, which worked out well since he helped the Boston Red Sox win the World Series last year. He scored an impressive 34 on the MCAT exam in preparation for NYU medical school. In case you were wondering, no one scores that high on the MCAT.
Former NFL player Myron Rolle graduated pre-Medical at Florida State University in just two and a half years with a 3.75 GPA. He also was a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford where he earned a Master of Science in Medical Anthropology. He managed to score a 1340 on the SAT, and he plans to be a neurosurgeon once he graduates from the FSU College of Medicine in 2017.
Pitcher Ross Ohlendorf attended Princeton where he studied Operations Research and Financial Engineering, which is a combination of economics, mathematics and engineering. He got just one answer wrong on the math portion of the SAT. He scored a 1520 on the SAT, and he posted a 3.8 GPA in school.
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