Super Bowl Facts: You Know What They Say About Quarterbacks With Big Hands…

In Sunday’s big game, Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning will be going mano-a-mano. Literally.

USATSI_nick-foles-pro-bowl-hands-Kirby Lee-USA-TODAY-Sports

Quick: What body part’s size is most vital to a pro quarterback’s success?

Um, gee. I dunno. Height, maybe?

Uh-uh. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is just five-foot-11, and he’s playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday. Try again.




Hmm. Could it be … head circumference? Quarterbacks have to be smart, right?

You must be kidding me. Ever hear of Donovan McNabb? Okay, let me help. Here’s a quote from former Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn that appeared in Friday’s Wall Street Journal. You fill in the blank:

“Russell Wilson’s _______ are a God thing — something you couldn’t even design.”

Er. Do cojones count?

Nah. Would you believe … hands?

That’s right. Hands are all the rage in the final days of this NFL season. The WSJ presents as proof the astounding size of the mitts of both Russell and the quarterback he’s facing on Sunday, the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning. This despite the fact, writer Kevin Clark admits, nobody paid any attention to hand size until a few years ago. The NFL’s own website doesn’t even give a hand span size for Peyton — or for Tom Brady or Brett Favre. It does definitively say, though, that at 10.25 inches from pinkie to thumb, Wilson’s mitt is bigger than any other young quarterback’s. Um. Not exactly, yo. FYI, at the 2012 NFL combine, Pro Bowl offensive MVP Nick Foles’s digital span logged in at 10 and five-eighths inches — bigger than the paws of any of the six quarterbacks drafted in front of him, including Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III — and Russell Wilson. One could argue, though, that Wilson’s paws are more prodigious in light of the fact that he’s a mere five-foot-eleven and Foles is six-foot-six.

Foles, Philly learned a few years back from his former Eagles roomie, QB Trent Edwards (now with the Oakland Raiders), wears size 16 shoes. This is not surprising, since scientifically, there’s a correlation of p<0.0001 between hand length and foot length. (Researchers thoughtfully developed this info to aid “in the identification of severed body parts.”) Edwards also claimed that Foles had the biggest head, circumference-wise, on the squad. So there’s that.

But we know what you’re aching to ask. And we’re here to tell you! That old saw about a correlation between foot size and penis size? Bullshit-buster website Snopes.com insists it’s myth, alas, though it was the basis of a lawsuit by Philly’s own Chubby Checker against Hewlett-Packard after the company released an app it called the "Chubby Checker" that purported to let guys take their measure, so to speak. (Warning: The "lawsuit" link above tells you much, much more about the challenges of calculating penile length and volume than you ever wanted to know.) The lawsuit sort of petered out after it was revealed that only 88 hardy downloaders bought the app, at 99 cents a whack.

Happy news for Wilson and/or Foles fans, however: A British study a decade ago did find that penis length “correlated significantly” with index finger length through fetal expression of the Homeobox genes (Hox for short), which regulate development of both the limbs and the urinogenital system. Hox genes are involved in the expression of prenatal sex steroids; the same second-digit-to-fourth-digit (2D:4D) ratio linked to penis size has been found to be related to other sex-dependent variables as diverse as autism, athletic ability, impulsivity and heart disease, to name a few.

But we digress. When Seattle general manager John Schneider chose Wilson in the third round of the 2012 draft, he specifically mentioned his prize’s paw size. In case you were wondering how you measure up, the average male hand span is 7.4 inches. Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers QB Wilson defeated to get to the Bowl, has a nine-inch spread. (That’s the same as me!) Michael Vick? Eight and a half inches, tops.

Still, hands down, of all the physio-cybermetrics, the most important could turn out to be that demonstrated by Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, who has everyone from AdAge to The Nation to Tom Brady to Senator John McCain talking about the unbelievable size of his mouth.

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  • Andy124

    Good stuff. The one thing this article lacks is a chart relating hand size to qb rating.

  • Bob

    Experts have been noting hand size for more than a few years. I used to never draft Daunte Culpepper for my fantasy team due to his small hands. It actually affected his NFL draft position too and that was the 90s