Legendary Wide Receiver Warren Wells: A Dimensional Thinker

Damali Binta – Jan 29, 2017

More than 53 years ago a young football player who became a legendary wide receiver and great deep threat said, "Jackie, you do mathematics on the blackboard. I do mathematics and physics on the football field."

We met in a mathematics lab at Texas Southern University. Coach Alexander Durley who was also a mathematics professor would send the football players to the math lab to make certain they maintained excellent grades in mathematics while also inspiring them to be above average problem-solvers on the playing field.

Several years later when his brother, Oscar Wells was his confidant and best friend, Oscar Wells told me, "Yes, my brother does mathematics and physics on the football field."

It took years for me to appreciate this profound statement about Warren Wells who studied football somewhat like a lawyer studies to pass the bar exam. In 1969 when his yard/reception average was 26.8, a number seldom reached before and after his intense career, it documents that Wells was one of the most gifted and prepared wide receivers in the history of the AFL and NFL. He was also uniquely gifted with physical agility. He could bend, cut, and turn with grace as he raced down the field to get in position to receive the football. He also maintained a yard/reception average above 20 for four consecutive years. Just look at the data and you will see that this is a remarkable fact about his performance.

One lawyer who reportedly has an IQ above 150 said, "We know each other when it comes to intelligence and discipline. Wells thinks dimensionally."

His comment made me know that the research I have done in the area of sports and math is worth it and some hidden figures in the NFL are going to be uncovered and recognized by the major media in the future.

Warren Wells was a gifted student in high school and college, but his focus was to perfect his football genius over and above his academic giftedness. He did, however, surround himself with analytical and discerning people like Dr. J. B. Jones, a powerful psychologist, and with others he met during his outstanding career.

Wells was skipped from the fourth grade to the fifth grade. It appears he could have been skipped even higher but since he ended up in the same class with his older brother, the family did not want to elevate him above his sibling who he loved very much. Wells is a sensitive man who loves his family.

Years ago he shared with me that he was drafted by the U. S. Army and he decided to not do what some of his other colleagues did during that era. Many of them sought deferments rather than serve in the military. They appealed to their congressmen to get deferments so that they would not have interruptions in their professional football career. Wells, however, knew that his two brothers were drafted and served in the military so he willingly served for two years. If he is credited for those two years as is done in civil service and some corporate jobs, then his career would span seven years, including his two year military service in the U. S. Army.

Wells, now 74 years old, was asked by his nephew, "What grade were you in when you were skipped in school?" And, Wells remembered, with his sharp intellect and almost perfect memory, and shared the data with us for this article.

I salute Warren Wells and the other academically gifted athletes in the NFL. It is our hope that the young NFL professional athletes will continue their academic pursuits as they perfect their performance on the playing field. These two talents correlate and they should get the same level of praise and attention. This is our hope for our young Oakland Raiders.

Just win, baby in football and in academics....and in life!

Contributing Writer:  Fred Reynolds

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