By Ryan Velez
John Urschel is a rare story in the NFL, but as EURWeb reports, people on and off the field may be able to learn from the choices he has made. After three seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, he chose to leave football to work to become a Ph.D. at MIT. Granted, pursuing academics may not be that far off for the Penn State graduate, who has had work published in numerous journals.
However, his initial leaving the sport that earned him as much as $600,000 per year was a massive surprise to those on the Ravens. “That was out of the blue,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. “He had been working hard. He was working on his snaps all summer. He was doing a great job. It was definitely a lightning bolt that way.” But even with all the money he made, Urschel says that he actually wasn’t comfortable with that lifestyle, and these days, is living a lot more modestly.
“I drive a used hatchback Nissan Versa and live on less than $25,000 a year,” he said. While even his mother has joked about the car, which already had 30,000 miles on it when he brought it, Urschel has gone so far as to call it his “dream car.”
“It’s great on gas. It’s surprisingly spacious. And you know what the best feeling is? You’re driving into a parking deck, it’s near full and you’re on the first level and there is that space that everyone has passed because they said, ‘No, we can’t park in there.’ And I take my Versa and I just go right in there.”
Many former athletes have had to live like this by necessity rather than choice, but according to Urschel, it’s not a matter of him being “frugal or trying to save for some big purchase.” “It’s because the things I love the most in this world (reading math, doing research, playing chess) are very, very inexpensive,” he explains. Many of us with expensive tastes may be a bit jealous.
However, many point out the timing of his retirement, two days after a study was released showing a link between concussions and brain disease among former NFL players, was no accident.
“My decision to retire early did come as a surprise to some people,” 26-year-old Urschel said. “For me, I thought about it with my family and it felt like the right decision for me. Of course, I still love football, it’s still my favorite game in the world. I was blessed to play it at the highest level, and I have experiences playing football that (I’ll) never forget. I recommend football, or any team sport to young people just to be able to experience what it’s like to be a part of a team and be a part of a group. For me personally, it felt like time to focus my efforts more on my second career to give myself the opportunity to be the best mathematician I can be.”