John Urschel retires from NFL

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Offensive lineman John Urschel started 13 games for the Ravens over the last three seasons, but, in general, he has gotten more notice for his mathematical ability than his football ability.

Urschel is going to have more time to crunch numbers in the near future. The Ph.D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has decided to end his playing career.

“This morning John Urschel informed me of his decision to retire from football,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in a statement. “We respect John and respect his decision. We appreciate his efforts over the past three years and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Urschel did not provide a statement about his reasons, although his bright future as a mathematician would seem to be the obvious answer. In a 2015 piece he wrote for The Players Tribune, Urschel wrote about being asked why he’d play given that future and the risks inherent to life as a professional football player.

“I play because I love the game,” Urschel wrote. “I love hitting people. There’s a rush you get when you go out on the field, lay everything on the line and physically dominate the player across from you. This is a feeling I’m [for lack of a better word] addicted to, and I’m hard-pressed to find anywhere else.”

Urschel was expected to be in the mix to start at center for the Ravens, who traded last year’s starter Jeremy Zuttah to the 49ers during the offseason. Ryan Jensen and Matt Skura are the other in-house candidates in Baltimore.

20 responses to “John Urschel retires from NFL

  1. That’s a very odd combination, for sure…a player and a scientist…
    Goes hand in hand with another story, a couple of days ago, about another former player who is now an astronaut…
    Good luck to both of them…

  2. Honestly I’m happy for him. He was too small and weak to start in the NFL long term, and would’ve had to move around. I know the Ravens liked the press they got off his genius, but an open roster spot and playing time should help develop someone big enough to take over a starting role.

  3. If it was me, I’d have stuck around for 1 more year.
    If you are cut, you get to keep the pro-rated signing bonus, and if you make the team you earn close to 500K.
    If he makes that extra 500K and keeps the 36K pro-rated signing bonus, it will have a big impact on his net worth, and help pave the way for a comfortable middle class (or better) life. He’ll still be able to get his degree and pursue his math career.

  4. Much respect to Mr. Urschel. No doubt he’ll go on and do great things in his lifetime.

    However, uh oh NFL! There goes your ‘poster boy role model.’ Guess it is back to hyping the likes of players who personify role modeling such as Odell Beckham Jr. and Zeke Elliot.

  5. Good for him. Guy’s only 26, has his whole life ahead of him. Got to perform at the highest level and now he can move on to the next chapter. Aside from his mathematical prowess, it’s not exactly a stunning loss for the Ravens, either.

  6. ESPN is saying right out that the new CTE study was the factor in this decision. Makes sense since, if there is an expiration date on how long he can do advanced math because of CTE, he is wise to quit now and get his PhD and do the other thing he loves. He got to live one dream, and now gets to live another.

  7. Getting out of football before its too late, I am very happy for him. And I bet he still has most of his money too. I still love watching him on those NFL commercials where he dominated the whole room of kids while playing chess.

  8. ‘We would have respected his decision even more had he told us MONTHS AGO!!!’

    Harbs, translated.

  9. Saw the HBO piece on him and became an instant fan of this guy — Steeler’s fan here.

    Class act all the way, will do much more for the world using his brain than his brawn. I am really pulling for him to succeed.

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