Another Day, Another NFL Retirement

Another Day, Another NFL Retirement

A few weeks ago, John Urschel retired from the NFL. He is 26 years old, and played on the offensive line for the Baltimore Ravens. John played football for Penn State University in college and had a 2 year career in the NFL before deciding to retire. What is interesting and admirable about this story is the why behind Urschel’s retirement.

Urschel is retiring to pursue a PhD in Math at M.I.T. Urschel already has several published studies and has easily got to be one of the, if not the smartest player in the NFL. Did C.T.E. (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) have something to do with it? Likely. As a professional football player that risk has to always be in the back of your mind (see what I did there?).  Urschel, who had spoken about balancing concerns about the safety of the game and his love for it, left before the team’s first full practice of the coming season.

John Urschel - PSU
John Urschel – PSU


I am humbled by how good John is at math, because I took Ordinary Differential Equations twice in my undergrad and received an F and a D. That was the point I realized I should drop the Physics part of my double major. I am really hoping John Urschel goes on to do many more great things in the world of mathematics. He has been a bit of an inspiration for me in the tail end of my EdD dissertation to really focus in and get things done where it matters most. I know 100,000 fans very rarely show up to cheer a guy on to do a mathematics equation, but perhaps they should.


Sometimes, the right decision in life is not always the one that seems to make the most sense externally. In the case of John Urschel, a multi-million dollar contract to play in one of the greatest leagues in the world, playing one of the greatest games in the world seems like a no brainer (see what I did there again). But the ability to walk away from a large sum of money to have  your brain and health still in tact is admirable. While its not always about the money, what is more impressive is that he is leaving the league to do wonderful things in the world of academia. I would love to interview John Urschel for our Healthcare Education Transformation podcast…If anyone has any networking connections in that direction, let me know!

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