BALTIMORE – Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel quit the NFL on Thursday – just two days after a landmark study of a degenerative brain disease showed that it affected 99 percent of professional football players.
The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association by researchers from Boston and Stanford universities. It found that of 111 NFL players’ brains examined post-mortem, 110 showed signs of damage due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
That news shook up Urschel so much that he quit on Thursday, his friend told ESPN.
Urschel, 26, is studying for a Ph.D. in mathematics at MIT in the off-season. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in math from Penn State.
He has already published six peer-reviewed mathematics papers. He’s also an avid chess player.
On Thursday, just before the first full-team practice of the season, he gave his notice to the Ravens.
“This morning John Urschel informed me of his decision to retire from football,” coach John Harbaugh said in a statement released Thursday.
Harbaugh said the team respected Urschel and his decision, and wished him the best.
Thursday afternoon on Twitter, Urschel said quitting was a tough decision but it was the right one for him. He said he was looking forward to going to school full-time and was preparing to become a father. He and his fianceé are expecting a baby in December, he revealed.
In August 2015, Urschel was knocked unconscious when he and another player collided helmet-to-helmet with another player. Urschel has previously said the concussion impaired his mathematical skills, but until now he has maintained that he loved football too much to quit.
Urschel signed with the Ravens in 2014 with a starting salary of $420,000 and a signing bonus of $144,560, prorated at $36,140 per year. He now owes the Ravens the final $36,140 installment.
This story is republished with permission from Talk Media News.
Regina Holmes has more than two decades of experience as a journalist –editing and reporting for news dailies including the Miami Herald, Newsday and the Baltimore Examiner. She also launched an award-winning investigative news website that tackled police and political corruption in Baltimore. She has worked as a consultant for the World Bank and Baltimore County Public Schools. Regina became a journalist because even as a child she was fascinated by the power of the press: how it could force a president out of office, elect a president, expose corruption, and shine a light on discrimination. She is passionate about giving a voice to people who are disenfranchised, ignored or powerless, including people of color, senior citizens, the impoverished, people with disabilities, veterans, and children. Issues in which she is particularly interested include race relations, criminal justice, and police brutality. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Vassar College and a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists. In her spare time, Regina enjoys traveling,antiquing, window-shopping for carsand watching HGTV.