Retired NFL offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens John Urschel announced his retirement the morning of the Ravens first official day of training camp as the math whiz works towards bigger accomplishments in the classroom.
Former Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel has long been considered one of the NFL’s smartest men. Now, he walks away with his health and wealth in tact.
Problem 1: Solve for “G”, where G = the genius amount of future annual wealth deemed necessary to retire from the brutal sport of football after only 3 years.
Let X = Career NFL Earnings ($1,821,108)
Let Y = Years Until Standard Retirement Age (39)
Let Z = Average Salary of an Employee with a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from MIT ($112,500/yr)
Let A = Money Already Spent Living Like You Have the Woebegone Salary ($25,000/yr for 3 years)
G = ((X – A) + (Z * Y)) / Y
For those of you not fluent in mathematics, maybe turn to John Urschel himself, as this formula is a breeze for him.
Broken down properly it simply states that Urschel, a published Doctoral Candidate at MIT, can retire from the NFL this early and still live on an approximate yearly means of $157,272. So far since he’s been in the NFL, he’s lived off of $25,000 per year, all while driving his dream car—a $9,000 2013 Nissan Versa.
Now, surely John has been investing properly into his 401K. After a players second season, the NFL’s 401K program does a 2:1 match off a players contribution, up to $28,000 per year. (That figure is only 26k in Urschel’s case, due to the yearly breakdown of the CBA).
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Let’s assume he invested his one year of eligibility to the maximum potential, giving him $39,000 in his account. Left untouched, that’s going to grow to just under one million dollars by his 65th birthday. Urschel is likely as smart as his degree’s show and he’ll invest more once his next career’s salary rolls in.
I assume when you teach Integral Vector Calculus Trigonometry, you can calculate compound interest well enough to see that even under the most conservative standards, those figures would blossom into about $3,000,000.
I want to stop right here and say something very important. Prior to 60 seconds ago, I thought “Integral Vector Calculus Trigonometry” was just four words that were purposefully placed together to confuse the simple minded. Once more, according to his MIT profile, he “currently (has) the fastest eigensolver for minimal Laplacian eigenvectors.”
There was no possible way that all these strings of words actually tied together to make something real. I, apparently, am the simple minded.
Now that the world is familiar with my relative ineptitude for the maths, I shall continue.
Salary isn’t everything. The NFL has some serious benefits.
The NFL offers life insurance, starting at with a $600,000 policy as a rookie. That grows by 200K every year the player is in the league, giving Urschel a $1,000,000 base policy.
The NFL’s pension plan and annuity require a player to be on the active roster for at least three games into their fourth season to earn benefits. Since Urschel retired after three, neither applies and we gratefully no longer need to calculate.
Thanks to the Nixon Report, who collaborated a full list of retired player benefits, we also know Urschel will have the following at his fingertips:
- The Gene Upshaw NFL Player Assistance Trust Fund (up to $350,000)
- Both group and individual licensing (Approx $12,000/year on NFL licensing)
- 5 years of free medical insurance post-retirement ($78,725 for family coverage)
- Extended medical benefits beyond that. (The NFL must pay up to $16 million annually in retired player benefits)
- Outside Investments (Relative Unknown)
The start of a forward-thinking trend
On the heels of his retirement, we should look back at players like Chris Borland (retired at the age of 24). Just this year, notable players like A.J. Tarpley (23) and D’Brickashaw Ferguson (32) also retired for health concerns.
Players are becoming increasingly aware of CTE and other brain injuries. That, coupled with current salaries higher than ever, means the trend of early retirement is just at its beginning.
Players will inevitably have shorter careers, and each case will become less and less shocking each page the calendar turns.
That being said, not every player has the background (or mental capacity) to do what Urschel has done. In his three years, John Urschel made less than the average NFL player makes in one. With his knowledge outside of the game, he is still virtually set for life.
His $9,000 dream car will always have a fresh oil change, ready to roll at any vector.