Welcome one and welcome all to another edition of the Smithology. Last week, I had an innocuous conversation with Julian Vandervelde about life as an NFL player who is constantly on the roster bubble, and he was promptly released just a few days later.
Nice one there, Alex.
The Smithology curse is real and it's spectacular. Then again, maybe Vandervelde will return someday, continuing the trend noted by last week's article. Only time will tell.
Today, I turn my attention toward finding out who the most intelligent player is in the Eagles' locker room. The reasoning here is that the Eagles are facing a Jets team quarterbacked by the bearded Ryan Fitzpatrick, a Harvard graduate who majored in economics and reportedly scored a 48 out of 50 on the Wonderlic Test before the 2005 NFL Draft. Interestingly enough, only two players in NFL history have scored higher than Fitzpatrick on the Wonderlic. One of them is former Eagle Mike Mamula, who scored a 49 in 1995. Another former Eagle, wide receiver Kevin Curtis, tied Fitzpatrick with a 48 in 2003.
With that in mind, I needed to know who the Eagles' brainiest player is, just in case the game were to suddenly come to a pause on Sunday in favor of an academic decathlon.
A quick survey of the Eagles' locker room produced some interesting results. Safety Chris Maragos claimed quarterback Sam Bradford to be the smartest Eagle, citing Bradford's general sharpness. Defensive end Vinny Curry went with Zach Ertz, citing the tight end's Stanford education. On the Eagles Insider Podcast, Walter Thurmond went with fellow safety Ed Reynolds, also a Stanford product.
But the answer that came up the most, and one that may surprise people, is offensive lineman Andrew Gardner.
On the surface, Gardner is a simple man with southern twang to his voice. According to his bio in the Eagles' official media guide, his favorite meal is "steak and potatoes/all food." His favorite movies are the American cinema classics The Godfather and Heavy Weights (video below). Funniest moment in a pile-up? It was when "one of my college teammates puked on someone in a scrum."
Again, he's a simple man.
But on the inside, Gardner is an intellectual. While he "wishes he had the magical ability to touch books and instantly absorb the information like in the move The Meteor Man," he has certainly left an impression on his teammates as being one of the smartest guys around.
"Maybe it's just because he's old," said Dennis Kelly. "He seems to know quite a bit about a lot of things. In the conversations that we've had, he kind of always seems to have some kind of input on everything."
"It's one of those things where you have conversations with guys and you come away from the conversation feeling like you actually learned something," said Reynolds. "He's a smart guy. He went to Georgia Tech."
But as smart as Gardner is, he's just as humble.
"That's awful nice of them," Gardner said. "I think it would be pretty conceited of a person to call himself the smartest person in a room."
Both Kelly and Reynolds cited Gardner's engineering degree at Georgia Tech, but when asked about his educational background, Gardner quickly clarified what is on his diploma.
"I'd love to say I was an engineering major, but actually I was a management major," said the astute Gardner. "I got my business degree from Georgia Tech. I think they're all called business degrees now. I have a business degree."
Hopefully this won't change his teammates' responses.
Who would Gardner vote for the smartest player on the team? He went with the man in the middle who knows a lot about the one subject that matters most.
"I'm going to go with Jason Kelce," Gardner said. "Is there one subject that he seems to know a lot about, more than anything else? Football."
Spoken like a true scholar.
Ivy League Eagles
After conducting this locker room survey, I set out to do some research on Ivy Leaguers who have played in an Eagles uniform throughout the team's history. Here are the results:
Harvard: Zero players
Yale: TE John Spagnola (1979-87)
Cornell: E Kirk Hershey (1941), B Mort Landsberg (1941), G/T Tom McHale (1993-94), G Harry Schaub (1935), G Frank Wydo (1952, 1957)
Brown: B Irv Hall (1942), WR Sean Morey (2001, 2003), E Robert Priestly (1942)
- The Eagles have had 17 players with the last name Brown, highlighted by the great Jerome Brown, Na Brown and most recently Ronnie Brown.
Dartmouth: QB Jay Fiedler (1994-95), QB Jeff Kemp (1991), E Robert Krieger (1941, 1946)
Pennsylvania: Ten Players, highlighted by perhaps the greatest Eagle of all time, Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik.
Princeton: QB Bob Holly (1984), Defensive quality control coach Stephen Thomas was the inside linebackers coach at Princeton from 2012-14.
Columbia: Zero players, though Chip Kelly started his collegiate coaching career there, serving as a defensive backs/special teams coach in 1990 and an outside linebackers/strong safeties coach in 1991.