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Tall tales: Getting an athlete’s real measurements is rarely easy

Tall tales: Getting an athlete’s real measurements is rarely easy

Behind the scenes at the Senior Bowl weigh-in, the moment of truth is at hand. It’s just after dawn on a Tuesday in late January, and already the massive South Exhibit Hall of the Mobile Convention Center in Alabama is packed with NFL personnel types, clipboards at the ready. Meanwhile, on the other side of the pageant-style stage, players are pacing around in the dark, in various stages of undress, when Titans scout Mike Boni pokes his head through the curtains to offer instructions about one of the most bizarre yet necessary events in sports.nfl jersey wholesale

As he speaks, the players try not to stare at the shiny metal carpenter’s square in Boni’s right hand. But they know that this simple tool Boni picked up for $6.99 at an Ace Hardware has measured the height of every NFL prospect since 2012 — and, unlike the players, it never lies. To be fair, yes, Boni has turned the carpenter’s square on himself. “Six-two,” he blurts proudly. But then, before the words have even left his mouth, Boni holds up a finger to wait, catching even himself in the kind of ubiquitous fib that this event was meant to combat. OK, well, he’s not exactly 6-foot-2, he confesses. He’s “six oh one seven,” scout-speak for 6-foot-1, which amounts to a difference of about half the thickness of your phone.

Boni is a stickler. And when it comes to extracting the truth from elite athletes about their height and weight, well, you have to be.2

In the hyper-data era of sports, we are hurtling toward absolute precision and mathematical certainty, where we can gleefully quantify grand mysteries such as a third-string fullback’s fourth-quarter red zone yards after contact in temperatures above and below 55 degrees. Yet it is something of a delightful, rebellious quirk that the first critical bit of data we learn about elite athletes — their height and weight — is still, more often than not, a complete and utter fabrication.

“The secret little sin in sports nobody ever talks about,” says the legit 6-4 Rebecca Lobo, a 2017 inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame and an ESPN analyst. “In sports, intimidation can be just as important as truth. If a little lie gives you that little extra mental edge, then it’s worth it. That’s the reason for all the fibbing — it works.”cheap authentic nfl jerseys

Lying, after all, is a highly effective, innate part of the human condition that comes as easily, and almost as often, as breathing. And exaggerating our stature, one of the most common fibs of all, has been practically programmed into our brains by millions of years of evolution and sociology that reinforce the notion that taller, larger people are superior. That programming is exponentially more powerful in sports, where athletes often stretch the truth to fight back against ridiculous notions of ideal body prototypes, which exclude, say, NFL quarterbacks under 6 feet or diminutive hockey wingers.