John Urschel is a current offensive guard for the Baltimore Ravens who played his college football at Penn State.

John joined Ed and Steve to talk about the Ravens and an essay he wrote recently on why he will continue to play football.

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Steve starts off the conversation by asking John about why he wrote the essay on football and the Chris Borland situation saying “I wrote this piece because something about this whole topic and what’s been going on in the media with respect to this, spoke to me personally. It spoke to me as someone who is highly intelligent –if you don’t mind me calling myself that– as someone who loves the game of football but also someone who has other options and I just thought that I’d share with people my perspective and my story.”

John Urschel is not only a football player he’s also a published Mathematician. He could possibly be the smartest man in the NFL including players, coaches and owners. He could very easily do something other than play a violent sport where he could potentially injure his brilliant mind.

In the opening line of his article titled “Why I Still Play Football”, John says “I envy Chris Borland.” He explains, “I’m envious of Borland because he is capable of making that decision. He is capable of making the decision to stop playing and to move on with his life because he has these great things that he wants to accomplish. He’s ready to end the chapter of football in his life and I can’t do it.” Ed follows that statement asking why, why risk the incredible gift that you have? John responds, simply, “I know this might sound crazy but I love playing football like nothing else I’ve ever loved in my life.” He talks about the fact that he has been blessed to be so talented mathematically but at the same time he has a love for the sport and plans to continue to play until all 32 teams tell him to quit trying.

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John also talked about how much he loves the physically violent portion of football even though it may not be the most politically correct thing to say. He believes that the controlled aggression in sports is actually good for people. As far as the extent of damage that the game can take on players physically and mentally, John is skeptical: “I think the people that tell you what it’s going to be and what the real risks are, they are either mistaken or outright lying. I don’t believe that we have done the analysis to properly be able to decide what the real risks are. You need controlled studies to look at these things. Right now, I think all the evidence that we have and all the things that we are looking at are anecdotal at best.” He does admit that playing football can’t be good for your mental health, saying “Absolutely, I’ve got news for you. We don’t need to do some advanced statistical analysis for me to be able to tell you that playing football cannot possibly be good for your brain. That goes without saying. But the question of how bad it is for your brain and if it’s significantly bad for your brain, that’s something we don’t know and we won’t know. And regardless of how bad it turns out to be, this is the decision that I’ve decided to make with my life. I’m an adult and it’s a personal decision for me.”

He talks about how his mother wishes he would do something different other than playing football. She encourages him and supports him but she also reminds him that there are other options for him, should football not continue.

John talks about Chris Borland and how much respect he has for him and his decision to pursue other things. There’s nothing soft about that decision.

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The Baltimore Ravens selected John Urschel 175th overall in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft and he got some playing time in his rookie year when Marhsall Yanda had to move over and play right tackle. They talk about how it was for a rookie to come in and play along side a veteran and Pro Bowler in Yanda. John says Marshall “might be the most awesome football player I’ve ever met in my life.”