Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel is retiring from the NFL after three seasons, ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported. Urschel is a former Penn State offensive lineman who was picked in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He has played in 40 games during his timeĀ in Baltimore, including 13 starts, and was a contender to win the Ravens’ starting center job in training camp.
But for all his football achievements, Urschel was even more accomplished off the field. He is a Ph.D. candidate at world renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a frequent contributor to The Players’ Tribune on the topic of advanced statistics. Urschel has multiple published papers in mathematics, the first of which came while he was a student at Penn State.
Urschel has been passionate about mathematics, so his early retirement, while abrupt, might have been expected. He was a 4.0 student who taught college-level courses and earned two master’s degrees during his time at Penn State, but he pursued football because of his love of the game, he wrote for The Players’ Tribune in 2015. In that article, Urschel said, “I envy Chris Borland,” who retired from football at 24 years old.
“I play because I love the game. I love hitting people,” Urschel wrote. “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’s retirement comes just two days after a new reportĀ found cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, in 110 of 111 brains of deceased former NFL players studied by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Borland, Patrick Willis, Jordan Cameron and Jason Worilds are among the other prominent names to retire from the NFL early in recent years.
Urschel was a two-time All-Big Ten selection as a guard at Penn State. He was a third-team All-America pick as a senior in 2013 and won the William V. Campbell Trophy, known as the “Academic Heisman,” as well as the Sullivan Award as the country’s top amateur athlete.