NFL Player, an MIT Grad Student, Will Leave Football After Widely Reported Brain-Trauma Study

Updated (7/27/2017, 10:04 p.m.) with additional information about the study.

John Urschel, an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens who is pursuing a doctorate in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will leave the National Football League, his team announced on Thursday.

ESPN reported the decision stemmed from a recent high-profile study that found a high percentage of more than 100 brains of deceased football players showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a debilitating disease. (The brains studied were not a random sample; most had been donated by medical examiners or by the families of players who had shown symptoms of the disease.)

Mr. Urschel had previously said he wanted to keep playing football because he loved it, despite his concerns about brain injury.

News outlets have previously written in awe of Mr. Urschel’s mathematical chops. He’s contributed to several papers on topics undecipherable to the layman, including ones titled “On the Characterization and Uniqueness of Centroidal Voronoi Tessellations” and “On the Approximation of Laplacian Eigenvalues in Graph Disaggregation.”

“I currently have the fastest eigensolver for minimal Laplacian eigenvectors,” he boasts on his MIT page.

According to the Ravens, Mr. Urschel has not yet stated why he is retiring from football.

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