The rap on most professional athletes is that they’re coddled throughout their academic careers and pushed through the system while their chosen institution enjoys the fruits of their athletic abilities.
But not NFL player John Urschel.
Not only does he hold a bacherlor’s and master’s degree in math (earning both with a 4.0 GPA), but the 6-foot-3, 300-pound offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens recently announced via Twitter that a math paper he authored was published in the highly touted Journal of Computational Mathematics.
The abstract of the paper highlights “a cascadic multigrid algorithm for fast computation of the Fiedler vector of a graph Laplacian, namely, the eigenvector corresponding to the second smallest eigenvalue.”
Urschel, who has had previous papers published is also an avid chess player and hopes to excel in the field of mathematics once his playing days are over.
In light of the sudden retirement of 24-year-old San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Boland, who cited a fear of future brain injury as his reason for walking away from the game, Urschel also recently wrote an essay for The Players’ Tribune detailing why he still plays despite his bright future in mathematics:
“I have a bright career ahead of me in mathematics. Beyond that, I have the means to make a good living and provide for my family, without playing football. I have no desire to try to accumulate $10 million in the bank; I already have more money in my bank account than I know what to do with. I drive a used hatchback Nissan Versa and live on less than $25K a year. I play because I love the game. 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. This is why, every off-season, I train in kickboxing and wrestling in addition to my lifting, running and position-specific drill work. I’ve fallen in love with the sport of football and the physical contact associated with it.”