Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel unexpectedly retired from professional football on Thursday, according to the team's official Twitter account.
Urschel has gained national notoriety for his academic prowess since he was drafted by the Ravens in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. The retiring lineman is currently a doctoral candidate in applied mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as an adjunct research associate in mathematics at Penn State.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh offered his comments regarding Urschel's retirement in a statement released by the team.
Many have drawn a connection between Urschel's abrupt retirement and a recent study released by the New York Times that outlines the damaging effects of football on the human brain. The report states that CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, has affected a staggering ratio of former professional football players.
If Urschel's retirement was indeed sparked by concerns over football-induced brain damage, it would continue what has become somewhat of a trend around the National Football League.
Just two years ago, former San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chirs Borland retired from the NFL due to this same concern despite having a very successful rookie year. Urschel was also a player on the rise and had a chance to be the starting center for the Ravens next season.
More scary news potentially tied to football-related head injuries came this week when chilling video circulated of former NFL defensive tackle Brian Price aimlessly running through a glass door. In an interview with Detriot's WDIV, Price said he doesn't remember running through the door and his wife outlined her belief that he is suffering from CTE.
The NFL released a statement regarding CTE following the release of the New York Times report, which noted the league's commitment to researching and preventing head trauma.
"The NFL has made 47 rules changes since 2002 to protect players, improve practice methods, better educate players and personnel on concussions and strengthen the league's medical protocols," the statement indicates.
The statement also points out, however, that, "As noted by the authors [of the recent study], there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE."