After making $2,364,560 in NFL while completing PhD, retired Ravens G John Urschel embarks on brainstorming journey as mathematics professor

Playing in the NFL is a dream for many people, although very few of them can successfully make it to the league. While players try every possible way to thrive in this profession, there are a few who have made up their minds to leave the league within a very short time, and Baltimore Ravens star John Urschel is one of them.

Urschel was projected to have a great NFL career as he made eleven appearances during his rookie campaign. He made a career-high seven starts and played in sixteen games the following season before deciding to hang up his cleats to fully devote himself to mathematics.

Former NFL G John Urschel hired as Mathematics professor

Urschel has been hired as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). According to his MIT biography, he is a mathematician who focuses on matrix analysis and computations, with an emphasis on theoretical results and provable guarantees for practical problems. His research interests include numerical linear algebra, spectral graph theory, and topics in theoretical machine learning.

John Urschel
Sports Illustrated

The former Ravens veteran completed a PhD in mathematics at MIT back in 2021. Before joining the institution, he served as a junior fellow at Harvard University. The 32-year-old also has a prolific research profile, having published or co-published several academic papers. He co-authored his autobiography, “Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football,” along with journalist and historian Louisa Thomas, his wife, back in 2019.

Urschel’s dual life in the NFL and University

Urschel accomplished both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees while playing college football at Penn State. He kicked off his NFL career after getting selected by the Ravens in the fifth round of the 2014 Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. The vet was a full-time MIT student while playing for the Ravens, and the team had no idea about that, albeit they just knew had been continuing study.

John Urschel
The New York Times

The football prodigy even published six academic papers in his free time between practices and games, earning him a spot on Forbes’ prestigious 30 Under 30 list of outstanding scientists. However, he later decided to stick to academic life and bid adieu to his NFL career after earning just $2,364,560 from the league following the 2016 season, during which he played 40 games (13 starts) in Baltimore.

Nevertheless, the ex-NFL guard has not strayed far from the football field and is currently serving a three-year term on the College Football Playoff selection committee. What are your thoughts on Urschel’s diverse career? Tell us in the comments.


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