John Urschel Retires Due To CTE Study

John Urschel, Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman and a doctoral candidate in applied mathematics, unexpectedly announced his retirement from football and the ripe age of 26 this Thursday, right before the first full-team training camp practice for the upcoming season.

Urschel’s decision came two days following a medical study that reveals that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) was found in almost 99 percent of deceased NFL players’ brains that were donated for scientific research.

CNN reports that the CTE study found that out of 202 deceased former football players total, which includes a combination of high school, college, and professional players, CTE was neuropathologically diagnosed in 177 participants, the study said.

The disease was found in 110 out of 111 former NFL players. It was also found in three of the 14 high school players and 48 out of the 53 college players. The CTE study included the brains of people who have openly confirmed having the disease. Some of these individuals include Ken Stabler, Kevin Turner, Bubba Smith, and Dave Duerson.

ESPN reports that a team source claims that Urschel’s decision was “linked to the results of the study.” Coach John Harbaugh claims that he was surprised when Urschel contacted him an hour before practice to inform him of his decision to retire.

Harbaugh stated, “He said he’s going to retire from football, [and] that was something that’s been on his mind for quite a while and throughout the offseason, that’s what he decided to do. We respect John tremendously.”

Urschel is currently pursuing his doctorate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the offseason, with a specific focus on spectral graph theory, numerical linear algebra, and machine learning. He was anticipated to compete for the Ravens’ starting center job position in training camp.

Back in 2015, Urschel sustained a concussion when he went “helmet-to-helmet” with another player. He was completely knocked unconscious.

Urschel said, referring to the injury, “I think it hurt my ability to think well mathematically. It took me about three weeks before I was football-ready. It took me a little bit longer before my high-level visualizations ability came back.”

Urschel has been able to achieve immense success outside of football. He is currently named to Forbes “30 under 30” in the science field. Urschel has published six colleague-reviewed mathematics papers and has three more ready for release.

Due to his abilities in football and math simultaneously, Urschel has been featured in many national commercials. He is sure to be an immense success outside of football.

Eric Weddle, safety for the Baltimore Ravens was stated this about Urschel’s departure, “As a team and as a leader, you can’t worry about the outside or what individuals do. We’re going to go out and play with who we have and move forward. We wish him the best and know he’s going to do great things. But it’s not with us and we have to move forward.”

 – Contributed by Amaya Starkey


WHUR Contributor

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