Meet The 300-Pound Baltimore Ravens Defensive Lineman Who’s An Absolute Math Genius

Watch this “Real Sports” clip about a brainiac NFL monster who is getting an Ph.D in Math at M.I.T.

John Urschel is a 6’3″, 300-lb mass of human destruction on the gridiron when he’s working as an offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens. But off the field, as the Real Sports segment above demonstrates, Urschel is anything but your stereotypical idea of pro football player. 

Urschel is in fact quite possibly a genius. He’s just 25 but already has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics. Remarkably, when he’s not actively playing football, he’s also pursuing a Ph.D. in math at no less than MIT. He writes on his homepage there that his past research has included “spectral graph theory, numerical PDE’s, matrix algebra, computational finance, mathematical physics, and others.” 

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Urschel doesn’t keep his football and math work separate at all, either—he has his own Math Challenge column in The Players’ Tribune.

As Urschel says in the video, he sees no big contrast between the sophisticated thinking needed to explore high-level math and the brutal grind of pro football. He also discusses the tricky balance between playing a sport noted for causing sometimes severe, even fatal brain injury, and continuing with his studies. 

Watch Bernard Goldberg’s sit-down with Urschel for a fascinating look at a man who is a truly unique blend of scholar and warrior.