John Urschel is trading in the NFL for a Ph.D. After just three seasons in the league, the 26-year-old offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens, abruptly retired Thursday (July 27) to continue pursuing his doctorate in mathematics at the Michigan Institute of Technology.
The announcement came two days after the release of a new study on the damaging effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder brought on by repeated head trauma.
The study, published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, found CTE in 110 out of 111 brains of deceased NFL players. According to the Baltimore Sun, sources close to Urschel confirmed that the results of the study influenced his retirement decision.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but I believe it was the right one for me,” Urschel said in a statement making no mention of the CTE study. “I’m excited to start working on my doctorate in mathematics full time at MIT.”
“I’m looking forward to the chance to take courses that are only offered in the fall semester, while spending time with my fiancee and preparing myself for the new challenges that will come with fatherhood,” he continued. “We’re expecting our first child in December.”
The Canadian math genius, who was drafted to the NFL in 2014, earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mathematics from Pennsylvania State University.
The MIT doctoral candidate has done research in spectral graph theory, computational finance, matrix algebra, mathematical physics, and more. Urschel also worked on nearly a dozen mathematical research papers, many of which have been published.