[PDF / Epub] ❤ Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football ✅ John Urschel – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk John Urschel, mathematician and former offensive lineman for the Balti Ravens with biographer Louisa Thomas tells the story of a life balanced between two passions For John Urschel, what began as an i _{Matter: A Epub ß } John Urschel, mathematician and former offensive lineman for the Balti Ravens with biographer Louisa Thomas tells the story of a life balanced between two passions For John Urschel, what began as an insatiable appetite for puzzles as a child quickly evolved Load results Apple Footer Apple Support into mastery of the elegant systems and rules of mathematics By Mind and Kindle  the time he was thirteen, Urschel was auditing college level calculus courses But when he joined his high school football team, a new interest began to eclipse the thrill he once felt in the classroom Football challenged Urschel in an entirely different way, and he became addicted to the physical contact of the and Matter: A ePUB ✓ sport Accepting a scholarship to play football at Penn State, Urschel refused to sacrifice one passion for another, and simultaneously pursued his bachelor s and then master s degrees in mathematics Against the odds, Urschel found a way to manage his double life as a scholar and an athlete, and so when he _{Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football eBook Õ} was drafted to the Balti Ravens, he enrolled in his PhD at MITWeaving together two separate yet bound narratives, Urschel relives for us the most pivotal moments of his bifurcated life He explains why, after Penn State was sanctioned for the acts of former coach Jerry Sandusky, he turned his back on offers from Ivy League universities and refused to abandon his team, and contends with his mother s repeated request, at the end of every season, that he quit the sport and pursue a career in rocket science Perhaps most personally, he opens up about the correlation between football and CTE, and the risks he took for the game he loves Equally at home with both Bernard Riemann s notion of infinity and Bill Belichick s playbook, Urschel reveals how each challenge whether on the field or in the classroom has brought him closer to understanding the two different halves of his own life, and how reason and emotion, the mind and the body, are always working together He asks why, So often, people want to divide the world into two Matter and energy Wave and particle Athlete and mathematician Why can t something be both.
10 thoughts on “Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football”

A fascinating memoir, and a very different look at an NFL football player For people who have the mistaken belief that professional sports figures can also have an intellectual bent, this book will show them different High concept mathematics, auditing classes at college, at the young she of thirteen A father and mother, though no longer together, that gave Urschel what he needed to excel in both interests in his life math and football Most of these mathematical explanations were way beyond A fascinating memoir, and a very different look at an NFL football player For people who have the mistaken belief that professional sports figures can also have an intellectual bent, this book will show them different High concept mathematics, auditing classes at college, at the young she of thirteen A father and mother, though no longer together, that gave Urschel what he needed to excel in both interests in his life math and football Most of these mathematical explanations were way beyond my knowledge, though I had at least heard of some of the theroems Football, well there I m comfortable Penn State football where Urschel played, and the devastating fall out from the Sandusky case, where unfortunately the students and athletes who punished, were not even present during those years Urschels dedication to his team mates and school kept Urschel from transferring His dedication to his studies, his motivation, the way he balanced his life on and off the field, was amazing.His thoughts as he tries to figure out which course he should pursue, his time with the Ravens, the NfL combine, and so muchA good book to give the young athletes in your life as it shows how love of sports can be combined with love of study, and how to do both well.ARC from Edelweiss

From the time I realized that I needed another sport to watch to fill the months between baseball seasons, I have watched NFL football with a flaming passion My son and I have a ritual where on Friday mornings he announces what games we get on our local stations so we can plan our Sunday afternoons accordingly Because my son wants to study higher level math, he roots for chaos overtime games that end in a tie, playoff races decided on the last week that come down to percentage point calculati From the time I realized that I needed another sport to watch to fill the months between baseball seasons, I have watched NFL football with a flaming passion My son and I have a ritual where on Friday mornings he announces what games we get on our local stations so we can plan our Sunday afternoons accordingly Because my son wants to study higher level math, he roots for chaos overtime games that end in a tie, playoff races decided on the last week that come down to percentage point calculations As long as numbers are involved, he is in his element An NFL player who is a top student is a rarity, and one who is one of the top mathematicians in the world, evenso When I found about about former NFL player and current MIT math PhD candidate John Urschel s memoir Mind and Matter, I knew that it was a book that we both had to read and would not be disappointed by John Urschel grew up primarily in Buffalo, New York His parents were divorced when he was young but both believed that he could conquer the world His mother bought him logic puzzles from the time he was a toddler and wanted him to go to Harvard, MIT, or Stanford to become a rocket scientist His father, also named John, waspractical He saw that his son was big for his age and got him interested in football from the time he was in middle school He also got his son interested in calculus From the time John Urschel first studied calculus, he realized that he was smarter than the average student at his school At Canisius Academy, Urschel desired to be one of the guys and started on the varsity football team for three years His mother still wanted him to become a rocket scientist and urged him to give up the dangerous game Yet, around this time, Urschel learned to compartmentalize the two things he loved most math and football It was these dual interests that earned him a football scholarship to Penn St Urschel used his scholarship at Penn St University to finish a bachelors and masters of mathematics within his five year eligibility Starting out as in higher level courses as a first year student, Urschel eventually taught sections of courses while still on the football team He was a dictionary definition of a student athlete and was named an Academic All American in his final year of eligibility It was during his time at Penn St that a scandal hit that threatened to unravel the entire football program, at the time one of the best in the country Urschel became one of the spokespeople of the team and caught the notice of NFL scouts who saw him as a potential player who had abilities far beyond the game of football Even as a college player and potential NFL draft pick, his mother urged him to quit football and focus on math Math might be his life but football at the time was his livelihood and as the NFL draft approached, Urschel still compartmentalized the two Urschel includes many higher level math proofs and functions that are over my head but he presents them in a way to make them accessible to the average person I admit to stopping after calculus but I found Urschel s explanation of chaos theory and celestial mechanics as well as other examples of math to be fascinating During football season, Urschel would barricade himself in an empty classroom for days at a time to finish a difficult proof He would turn to chess games for relaxation and is still studying to become an American master Many NFL teams questioned his commitment to football, especially as the dangers of brain damage from concussion have come to light Yet, Urschel admits to loving the game and wanted a chance in the NFL The Balti Ravens took a chance on him with a low level pick, and Urschel trained hard to eventually make the team and start occasionally for a better part of three years John Urschel has appeared in Bose headphone commercials with JJ Watt He is the one who writes formulas on a chalk board explaining how the headphones work while Watt tunes him out Urschel only played in the league for three seasons as he realized that football took away from his studies to earn a PhD in math from MIT, the school his mother desired that he attend from day one Today Urschel is devoted to math full time and is a husband and father He is truly a Renaissance man and an example to student athletes everywhere as one who used a scholarship to reach the upper echelons of his field While I am positive that the Ravens miss his presence in the locker room, math has gained someone who will leave his mark on the field for years to come Here is an uplifting video of Urschel discussing how his love for math and football intersect stars

An easy read save for the few technical math terms and concepts that can be for the most part glossed over as techno babble without derailing the narrative, and wisely alternating short chapters to keep the entire story moving along The only really off note was the introduction in the waning pages of a till then un hinted at fiance and child who would have been better off left out entirely rather than given such short shrift.

An amazing and unique story John Urshel grew up with two passions in life football, which he discovered in high school, and math, which he discovered very young His dedication and determination are detailed in every chapter of this book, in which he alternately discusses his two careers a football, moving from a small Catholic high school in Buffalo to a scholarship at Penn State, when it got sanctioned by the NCAA in 2011 for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, to being drafted by the Balti R An amazing and unique story John Urshel grew up with two passions in life football, which he discovered in high school, and math, which he discovered very young His dedication and determination are detailed in every chapter of this book, in which he alternately discusses his two careers a football, moving from a small Catholic high school in Buffalo to a scholarship at Penn State, when it got sanctioned by the NCAA in 2011 for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, to being drafted by the Balti Ravens and making it to a starting offensive line position in the NFL, and b math, where his intellectual curiosity motivated him to take courses well above his academic qualifications His learning and collaborative efforts on the field and in research are very impressive, and his attempts to explain his math research to laymen is commendable Finally, Urshel s decision to retire from football at age 26 to become a mathematician is easily understandable given the rigors and violence of the sport Recommended

I were to tell you that someone was a mathematician, you d have some pretty specific ideas about who that person was If were to tell you that someone was a football player, you d have some pretty specific ideas about who that person was as well And you probably wouldn t think that there would be a lot of overlap in that particular Venn diagram.But then you encounter someone like John Urschel and you re forced to reconsider your preconceived notions I were to tell you that someone was a mathematician, you d have some pretty specific ideas about who that person was If were to tell you that someone was a football player, you d have some pretty specific ideas about who that person was as well And you probably wouldn t think that there would be a lot of overlap in that particular Venn diagram.But then you encounter someone like John Urschel and you re forced to reconsider your preconceived notions because he has achieved great heights in both arenas.His new book Mind and Matter A Life in Math and Football explores the seeming disparity between Urschel s passions Along with his co author and partner Louisa Thomas, Urschel walks readers along the parallel paths through which he pursued two dreams that were seemingly at odds Few athletes ever approach the pinnacle of their sport Few academics ever approach the pinnacle of their field John Urschel still a month away from his 28th birthday as of this writing has done both.John Urschel s tremendous gifts were apparent from a young age While his intellectual precocity began with a love of puzzles, it wasn t long before his surgeon father was steering him toward the challenges of advanced mathematics At just 13, he was auditing a college level calculus course andthan holding his own It seemed as though his would be a life of the mind.But football was also part of the picture It was there that John discovered the camaraderie of team sports, as well as the discipline that time on the gridiron could instill An imposing physical presence, Urschel worked his way into becoming a top tier player at his Buffalo high school, an offensive lineman who flashed the potential to play at the next level.Urschel would find a home for his paired passions at Penn State He was a scholarship player on the football team, but he was far from the lip service student athlete one often finds at the Division I level Instead, he was constantly challenging himself in the classroom as well as on the gridiron, taking advantage of a redshirt year and some supportive mentors to wind up with not just a bachelor s, but a master s degree in mathematics even as he worked his way up to becoming an All Big 10 selection as an offensive guard.But it didn t stop there.A solid performance at the NFL Combine led to Urschel s being drafted by the Balti Ravens in the fifth round of the NFL Draft He signed with Balti and made the team, but also chose to continue his mathematical studies, landing in a PhD program at MIT.And so, just like he d been doing since high school, he simply did both The people in either orbit tended to find Urschel s other interest a bit odd, but his seeming eccentricities were never held against him his professors and collaborators supported his playing career, while his coaches and teammates supported his academic pursuits.Urschel retired from the NFL after three seasons, choosing to finally devote himself fully to his dream of becoming a mathematician Mind and Matter is a fascinating read We don t often come across Renaissance men like this any, people who can reach the highest levels in fields both physical and intellectual NFL lineman, math PhD candidate either of those achievements would put someone in rarefied air But to manage both It s almost inconceivable.And yet, even with all that he has accomplished, there s a real sense of humility to John Urschel One gets the impression that he takes none of this for granted and has worked tremendously hard at every stop along the way His is a journey that is unique, a powerful paean to possibility.A memoir such as this could easily come off as self congratulatory, but there s a healthy sense of perspective here And Urschel s voice feels genuine and authentic one assumes that much of that is thanks to his co author Thomas brings to the table not only her own considerable writerly gifts, but also a depth of understanding regarding Urschel s history and character.The dual narrative threads make for an engaging storytelling device By separating the two paths math and football we re given a compelling look at their similarities as well as their differences However, there s also enough overlap to get a sense of one passion s influence on the other, allowing us a wonderful sense of how they connect Oh, and rest assured Urschel goes DEEP on the math He delves into the specifics, talking about particular areas of interest and dishing out a little math history to boot It s unapologetic in its wonkiness and delightfully dense and that s with Urschel undoubtedly dialing it back for the benefit of those of us who aren t pursuing our PhDs at MIT Mind and Matter is the tale of one man s willingness to do whatever it took to maintain his paired passions a remarkable feat that combined immense intellect, incredible strength and endless reserves of determination and raw willpower Sports books like this one don t come along every day Then again, individuals like John Urschel don t come along every day either Read this book and you ll understand just how rare they are

I was thrilled to get an advance copy of this book and thought I might read a chapter or two on a cross country flight, in between a nap and in flight movie To my surprise, I never put it down I read the book cover to cover Urschel has led a fascinating life and the story reads almost like a movie I appreciated the clear explanations of both math and football neither of which is a particularly strong interest of mine Both were made interesting and accessible Moreover, the book is beautif I was thrilled to get an advance copy of this book and thought I might read a chapter or two on a cross country flight, in between a nap and in flight movie To my surprise, I never put it down I read the book cover to cover Urschel has led a fascinating life and the story reads almost like a movie I appreciated the clear explanations of both math and football neither of which is a particularly strong interest of mine Both were made interesting and accessible Moreover, the book is beautifully written by Urschel and Thomas The writing flows.Finally, I am an academic myself so this peek into the world of PhD programs, research, publishing, and academia was refreshingly accurate.Highly recommend

This is John Urschel s love story to both math and football As I share one of these loves, it was refreshing to hear from someone so enthusiastic about math His love started from exactly the same place as mine puzzles Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book, even with little interest in football I will recommend it to my students because John makes math seem fun, beautiful, and accessible with hard work and curiosity.The Pyr Review This is John Urschel s love story to both math and football As I share one of these loves, it was refreshing to hear from someone so enthusiastic about math His love started from exactly the same place as mine puzzles Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book, even with little interest in football I will recommend it to my students because John makes math seem fun, beautiful, and accessible with hard work and curiosity.The Pyr Review

I read the bulk of this book, two hundred pages, in one sitting It was so engrossing partly because of how well written this book is, the co author, Louisa Thomas is a well known writer and partly because the book addresses two worlds that are dear to my heart mathematics and sports I didn t engage either one of the worlds in the depth that the author does, I am an engineer and a youth coach, but the juxtapositions of the two worlds was held deep attraction for me For most of the general au I read the bulk of this book, two hundred pages, in one sitting It was so engrossing partly because of how well written this book is, the co author, Louisa Thomas is a well known writer and partly because the book addresses two worlds that are dear to my heart mathematics and sports I didn t engage either one of the worlds in the depth that the author does, I am an engineer and a youth coach, but the juxtapositions of the two worlds was held deep attraction for me For most of the general audience the two worlds are seemingly diametrically opposed, but the authors manage to portray the deep love that the two world engenders in John Urschel Indeed, the authors did a magnificent job coupling the two seemingly disparate threads together into a cogent whole At first, I feared that I was going to dislike the structure of the book they chose to alternated math and football chapters, but the book was so well written that my perceived distraction evaporated as I dove into the book John Urschel s story is widely reported in the popular press He straddled the football and math worlds as an undergraduate, a graduate student, and a post grad while playing at Penn State and in the NFL He was good enough to be drafted by the Balti Ravens and having a productive three years while also studying for his PhD in mathematics at MIT This book roughly described his journey The book tells a great story in an unselfconscious and natural way John Urschel came through the account as a genuine and honest person, even as he addressed a few issues that could have been controversial the fall out from the Sandusky affair at Penn State and the effect of repeated concussions on his potential as a mathematician, he honestly told his story focused on his own perceptions and thoughts, while assiduously avoided inflaming any nerves He told the story through his eyes without extrapolating the facts to come to any indefensible conclusions, which is all we can ask for.The other part of the book that could have been difficult is the mathematics I have had the background and training to get through most of the mathematics, most of the concepts were on an advanced undergraduate to graduate level, John Urschel s teaching ability was evident and shone through in his explanations of some of theadvanced mathematics topics I moved away from any thoughts of majoring in mathematics after my initial experience with real analysis, so I was cognizant but not an expert in many of the areas but I was able to understand his explanations of his work in Graph Theory, algorithm development, uncertainty, and spectral bisection His explanations assume some background in math, but he was able communicate to the readers in an exceptionally clear fashion just in terms of concepts and intuition and without employing any mathematical language In fact, intuition was his guiding light as he powered through his way through his mathematical explorations, and he was able to explain the role that intuition played in his mathematical thoughts.The football portions of the story were told somewhat matter of factly I would imagine that this was intentional, as the authors may have assumed that the general public who would read this book are thoroughly engaged in the intensity and passions of football in America Two parts of the football story engaged me his freshman year workouts with his strength and condition coach at Penn State and the Raven s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and loss to the New England Patriots in the NFL playoffs Those stories captured and conveyed the passion that John Urschel had of the game of football as well as the mindset he employed to become successful in football.In possibly one of the great acts in self awareness and honesty comes in the last chapter when he describes why he walked away from football and is devoting his considerable intellect to mathematics Unlike most great athletes, he recognized his shortcomings and he was able to explain his logic and reasoning for walking away with aplomb and honesty.I was a nice easy read but the book talks about the mathematics that he is doing as well as taking the reader though his life so far I think that our culture s preoccupation with specialization drives our internal narrative We are expected to focus and be great at one thing, that one thing should give us all a good life while contributing to the orderly conduct of our life in society, but we all know that human beings are complex, and our intellect can be multi faceted What John Urschel s story illustrates is that by exceeding societal expectations in terms of what his role is in life, he is staking his claim as a polymath.This was, a very enjoyable and entertaining read

In alternating chapters of Mind and Matter, John Urschel takes you through his life in mathematics and his life in football As Sullivan Jones reads the book aloud for Audible, he completely becomes John Urschel s voice, except in those instances when he changes his voice to become a roommate, one of Urschel s math teachers or mathematician colleagues, or one of his coaches in high school in Buffalo, at Penn State and yes he is there when the abuse scandal hits and at the NFL s Balti R In alternating chapters of Mind and Matter, John Urschel takes you through his life in mathematics and his life in football As Sullivan Jones reads the book aloud for Audible, he completely becomes John Urschel s voice, except in those instances when he changes his voice to become a roommate, one of Urschel s math teachers or mathematician colleagues, or one of his coaches in high school in Buffalo, at Penn State and yes he is there when the abuse scandal hits and at the NFL s Balti Ravens You are never in any doubt that it is Urschel talking I highly recommend approaching this as an audio book.The most striking aspect of the story is the simplicity and clarity with which Urschel introduces us to most of the main aspects of being a mathematician, not only what it means to be a mathematician in habits of thought and approach, but also in clear and brief descriptions of a lot of key mathematical concepts, such as graph, matrix, vector, eigenvalue seriously, i have never understand what that was all about until now and including the main idea of differential calculus, probability, the law of large numbers, voronoi diagrams, and even Simpson s Paradox Believe me, if there is anyone who is well suited to being a professor of mathematics, it s John Urschel He could probably explain four dimensional graphics to you over the phone To explain and describe math concepts in a way that works in an audio book that s a gift I would listen to that part of the book all over again, if I didn t have to listen to the part about football Not that I didn t like hearing about his football career It was rendered with suspense there are some real surprises and, like the math chapters, with a considerable amount of humor Football, both playing and enjoying, is a part of the lives of many men I was like I can t believe I am walking around Staples with headphones on laughing my ass off about 5th degree polynomial equations and that happened in the football chapters too.Another thing to think about as you are enjoying this book is that mathematician Urschel is married to biographer and New Yorker contributing writer Louisa Thomas, which I m not sure is mentioned in the text I promise you will love the last sentence of this book, which she made possible I hope this book is super influential, so I m giving it five stars, but even if it s not I enjoyed reading it

John Urschel deserves a biography Not many people are NFL starters, and not many are research mathematicians The one who checks both boxes is an interesting character As a mathematician and a football fan, I guess I m the target market.Unfortunately, the book felt rushed to me Urschel, who was on the football team at Penn State when news of the sex abuse scandal broke, does acknowledge the gravity of the program s betrayal of trust, but almost in passing he moves rather quickly to the tea John Urschel deserves a biography Not many people are NFL starters, and not many are research mathematicians The one who checks both boxes is an interesting character As a mathematician and a football fan, I guess I m the target market.Unfortunately, the book felt rushed to me Urschel, who was on the football team at Penn State when news of the sex abuse scandal broke, does acknowledge the gravity of the program s betrayal of trust, but almost in passing he moves rather quickly to the team s performance on the field His concussion and subsequent retirement, too, are described, but not in the depth I would have wished.Urschel does a good job of expressing his interest in mathematics, the difficulty of pursuing both math and football, and the ways people around him reacted to his unusual gifts I enjoyed this, and wish he could have taken us a bit deeper into his world
A fascinating memoir, and a very different look at an NFL football player For people who have the mistaken belief that professional sports figures can also have an intellectual bent, this book will show them different High concept mathematics, auditing classes at college, at the young she of thirteen A father and mother, though no longer together, that gave Urschel what he needed to excel in both interests in his life math and football Most of these mathematical explanations were way beyond A fascinating memoir, and a very different look at an NFL football player For people who have the mistaken belief that professional sports figures can also have an intellectual bent, this book will show them different High concept mathematics, auditing classes at college, at the young she of thirteen A father and mother, though no longer together, that gave Urschel what he needed to excel in both interests in his life math and football Most of these mathematical explanations were way beyond my knowledge, though I had at least heard of some of the theroems Football, well there I m comfortable Penn State football where Urschel played, and the devastating fall out from the Sandusky case, where unfortunately the students and athletes who punished, were not even present during those years Urschels dedication to his team mates and school kept Urschel from transferring His dedication to his studies, his motivation, the way he balanced his life on and off the field, was amazing.His thoughts as he tries to figure out which course he should pursue, his time with the Ravens, the NfL combine, and so muchA good book to give the young athletes in your life as it shows how love of sports can be combined with love of study, and how to do both well.ARC from Edelweiss
From the time I realized that I needed another sport to watch to fill the months between baseball seasons, I have watched NFL football with a flaming passion My son and I have a ritual where on Friday mornings he announces what games we get on our local stations so we can plan our Sunday afternoons accordingly Because my son wants to study higher level math, he roots for chaos overtime games that end in a tie, playoff races decided on the last week that come down to percentage point calculati From the time I realized that I needed another sport to watch to fill the months between baseball seasons, I have watched NFL football with a flaming passion My son and I have a ritual where on Friday mornings he announces what games we get on our local stations so we can plan our Sunday afternoons accordingly Because my son wants to study higher level math, he roots for chaos overtime games that end in a tie, playoff races decided on the last week that come down to percentage point calculations As long as numbers are involved, he is in his element An NFL player who is a top student is a rarity, and one who is one of the top mathematicians in the world, evenso When I found about about former NFL player and current MIT math PhD candidate John Urschel s memoir Mind and Matter, I knew that it was a book that we both had to read and would not be disappointed by John Urschel grew up primarily in Buffalo, New York His parents were divorced when he was young but both believed that he could conquer the world His mother bought him logic puzzles from the time he was a toddler and wanted him to go to Harvard, MIT, or Stanford to become a rocket scientist His father, also named John, waspractical He saw that his son was big for his age and got him interested in football from the time he was in middle school He also got his son interested in calculus From the time John Urschel first studied calculus, he realized that he was smarter than the average student at his school At Canisius Academy, Urschel desired to be one of the guys and started on the varsity football team for three years His mother still wanted him to become a rocket scientist and urged him to give up the dangerous game Yet, around this time, Urschel learned to compartmentalize the two things he loved most math and football It was these dual interests that earned him a football scholarship to Penn St Urschel used his scholarship at Penn St University to finish a bachelors and masters of mathematics within his five year eligibility Starting out as in higher level courses as a first year student, Urschel eventually taught sections of courses while still on the football team He was a dictionary definition of a student athlete and was named an Academic All American in his final year of eligibility It was during his time at Penn St that a scandal hit that threatened to unravel the entire football program, at the time one of the best in the country Urschel became one of the spokespeople of the team and caught the notice of NFL scouts who saw him as a potential player who had abilities far beyond the game of football Even as a college player and potential NFL draft pick, his mother urged him to quit football and focus on math Math might be his life but football at the time was his livelihood and as the NFL draft approached, Urschel still compartmentalized the two Urschel includes many higher level math proofs and functions that are over my head but he presents them in a way to make them accessible to the average person I admit to stopping after calculus but I found Urschel s explanation of chaos theory and celestial mechanics as well as other examples of math to be fascinating During football season, Urschel would barricade himself in an empty classroom for days at a time to finish a difficult proof He would turn to chess games for relaxation and is still studying to become an American master Many NFL teams questioned his commitment to football, especially as the dangers of brain damage from concussion have come to light Yet, Urschel admits to loving the game and wanted a chance in the NFL The Balti Ravens took a chance on him with a low level pick, and Urschel trained hard to eventually make the team and start occasionally for a better part of three years John Urschel has appeared in Bose headphone commercials with JJ Watt He is the one who writes formulas on a chalk board explaining how the headphones work while Watt tunes him out Urschel only played in the league for three seasons as he realized that football took away from his studies to earn a PhD in math from MIT, the school his mother desired that he attend from day one Today Urschel is devoted to math full time and is a husband and father He is truly a Renaissance man and an example to student athletes everywhere as one who used a scholarship to reach the upper echelons of his field While I am positive that the Ravens miss his presence in the locker room, math has gained someone who will leave his mark on the field for years to come Here is an uplifting video of Urschel discussing how his love for math and football intersect stars
An easy read save for the few technical math terms and concepts that can be for the most part glossed over as techno babble without derailing the narrative, and wisely alternating short chapters to keep the entire story moving along The only really off note was the introduction in the waning pages of a till then un hinted at fiance and child who would have been better off left out entirely rather than given such short shrift.
An amazing and unique story John Urshel grew up with two passions in life football, which he discovered in high school, and math, which he discovered very young His dedication and determination are detailed in every chapter of this book, in which he alternately discusses his two careers a football, moving from a small Catholic high school in Buffalo to a scholarship at Penn State, when it got sanctioned by the NCAA in 2011 for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, to being drafted by the Balti R An amazing and unique story John Urshel grew up with two passions in life football, which he discovered in high school, and math, which he discovered very young His dedication and determination are detailed in every chapter of this book, in which he alternately discusses his two careers a football, moving from a small Catholic high school in Buffalo to a scholarship at Penn State, when it got sanctioned by the NCAA in 2011 for the Jerry Sandusky scandal, to being drafted by the Balti Ravens and making it to a starting offensive line position in the NFL, and b math, where his intellectual curiosity motivated him to take courses well above his academic qualifications His learning and collaborative efforts on the field and in research are very impressive, and his attempts to explain his math research to laymen is commendable Finally, Urshel s decision to retire from football at age 26 to become a mathematician is easily understandable given the rigors and violence of the sport Recommended
I were to tell you that someone was a mathematician, you d have some pretty specific ideas about who that person was If were to tell you that someone was a football player, you d have some pretty specific ideas about who that person was as well And you probably wouldn t think that there would be a lot of overlap in that particular Venn diagram.But then you encounter someone like John Urschel and you re forced to reconsider your preconceived notions I were to tell you that someone was a mathematician, you d have some pretty specific ideas about who that person was If were to tell you that someone was a football player, you d have some pretty specific ideas about who that person was as well And you probably wouldn t think that there would be a lot of overlap in that particular Venn diagram.But then you encounter someone like John Urschel and you re forced to reconsider your preconceived notions because he has achieved great heights in both arenas.His new book Mind and Matter A Life in Math and Football explores the seeming disparity between Urschel s passions Along with his co author and partner Louisa Thomas, Urschel walks readers along the parallel paths through which he pursued two dreams that were seemingly at odds Few athletes ever approach the pinnacle of their sport Few academics ever approach the pinnacle of their field John Urschel still a month away from his 28th birthday as of this writing has done both.John Urschel s tremendous gifts were apparent from a young age While his intellectual precocity began with a love of puzzles, it wasn t long before his surgeon father was steering him toward the challenges of advanced mathematics At just 13, he was auditing a college level calculus course andthan holding his own It seemed as though his would be a life of the mind.But football was also part of the picture It was there that John discovered the camaraderie of team sports, as well as the discipline that time on the gridiron could instill An imposing physical presence, Urschel worked his way into becoming a top tier player at his Buffalo high school, an offensive lineman who flashed the potential to play at the next level.Urschel would find a home for his paired passions at Penn State He was a scholarship player on the football team, but he was far from the lip service student athlete one often finds at the Division I level Instead, he was constantly challenging himself in the classroom as well as on the gridiron, taking advantage of a redshirt year and some supportive mentors to wind up with not just a bachelor s, but a master s degree in mathematics even as he worked his way up to becoming an All Big 10 selection as an offensive guard.But it didn t stop there.A solid performance at the NFL Combine led to Urschel s being drafted by the Balti Ravens in the fifth round of the NFL Draft He signed with Balti and made the team, but also chose to continue his mathematical studies, landing in a PhD program at MIT.And so, just like he d been doing since high school, he simply did both The people in either orbit tended to find Urschel s other interest a bit odd, but his seeming eccentricities were never held against him his professors and collaborators supported his playing career, while his coaches and teammates supported his academic pursuits.Urschel retired from the NFL after three seasons, choosing to finally devote himself fully to his dream of becoming a mathematician Mind and Matter is a fascinating read We don t often come across Renaissance men like this any, people who can reach the highest levels in fields both physical and intellectual NFL lineman, math PhD candidate either of those achievements would put someone in rarefied air But to manage both It s almost inconceivable.And yet, even with all that he has accomplished, there s a real sense of humility to John Urschel One gets the impression that he takes none of this for granted and has worked tremendously hard at every stop along the way His is a journey that is unique, a powerful paean to possibility.A memoir such as this could easily come off as self congratulatory, but there s a healthy sense of perspective here And Urschel s voice feels genuine and authentic one assumes that much of that is thanks to his co author Thomas brings to the table not only her own considerable writerly gifts, but also a depth of understanding regarding Urschel s history and character.The dual narrative threads make for an engaging storytelling device By separating the two paths math and football we re given a compelling look at their similarities as well as their differences However, there s also enough overlap to get a sense of one passion s influence on the other, allowing us a wonderful sense of how they connect Oh, and rest assured Urschel goes DEEP on the math He delves into the specifics, talking about particular areas of interest and dishing out a little math history to boot It s unapologetic in its wonkiness and delightfully dense and that s with Urschel undoubtedly dialing it back for the benefit of those of us who aren t pursuing our PhDs at MIT Mind and Matter is the tale of one man s willingness to do whatever it took to maintain his paired passions a remarkable feat that combined immense intellect, incredible strength and endless reserves of determination and raw willpower Sports books like this one don t come along every day Then again, individuals like John Urschel don t come along every day either Read this book and you ll understand just how rare they are
I was thrilled to get an advance copy of this book and thought I might read a chapter or two on a cross country flight, in between a nap and in flight movie To my surprise, I never put it down I read the book cover to cover Urschel has led a fascinating life and the story reads almost like a movie I appreciated the clear explanations of both math and football neither of which is a particularly strong interest of mine Both were made interesting and accessible Moreover, the book is beautif I was thrilled to get an advance copy of this book and thought I might read a chapter or two on a cross country flight, in between a nap and in flight movie To my surprise, I never put it down I read the book cover to cover Urschel has led a fascinating life and the story reads almost like a movie I appreciated the clear explanations of both math and football neither of which is a particularly strong interest of mine Both were made interesting and accessible Moreover, the book is beautifully written by Urschel and Thomas The writing flows.Finally, I am an academic myself so this peek into the world of PhD programs, research, publishing, and academia was refreshingly accurate.Highly recommend
This is John Urschel s love story to both math and football As I share one of these loves, it was refreshing to hear from someone so enthusiastic about math His love started from exactly the same place as mine puzzles Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book, even with little interest in football I will recommend it to my students because John makes math seem fun, beautiful, and accessible with hard work and curiosity.The Pyr Review This is John Urschel s love story to both math and football As I share one of these loves, it was refreshing to hear from someone so enthusiastic about math His love started from exactly the same place as mine puzzles Overall, I really enjoyed reading the book, even with little interest in football I will recommend it to my students because John makes math seem fun, beautiful, and accessible with hard work and curiosity.The Pyr Review
I read the bulk of this book, two hundred pages, in one sitting It was so engrossing partly because of how well written this book is, the co author, Louisa Thomas is a well known writer and partly because the book addresses two worlds that are dear to my heart mathematics and sports I didn t engage either one of the worlds in the depth that the author does, I am an engineer and a youth coach, but the juxtapositions of the two worlds was held deep attraction for me For most of the general au I read the bulk of this book, two hundred pages, in one sitting It was so engrossing partly because of how well written this book is, the co author, Louisa Thomas is a well known writer and partly because the book addresses two worlds that are dear to my heart mathematics and sports I didn t engage either one of the worlds in the depth that the author does, I am an engineer and a youth coach, but the juxtapositions of the two worlds was held deep attraction for me For most of the general audience the two worlds are seemingly diametrically opposed, but the authors manage to portray the deep love that the two world engenders in John Urschel Indeed, the authors did a magnificent job coupling the two seemingly disparate threads together into a cogent whole At first, I feared that I was going to dislike the structure of the book they chose to alternated math and football chapters, but the book was so well written that my perceived distraction evaporated as I dove into the book John Urschel s story is widely reported in the popular press He straddled the football and math worlds as an undergraduate, a graduate student, and a post grad while playing at Penn State and in the NFL He was good enough to be drafted by the Balti Ravens and having a productive three years while also studying for his PhD in mathematics at MIT This book roughly described his journey The book tells a great story in an unselfconscious and natural way John Urschel came through the account as a genuine and honest person, even as he addressed a few issues that could have been controversial the fall out from the Sandusky affair at Penn State and the effect of repeated concussions on his potential as a mathematician, he honestly told his story focused on his own perceptions and thoughts, while assiduously avoided inflaming any nerves He told the story through his eyes without extrapolating the facts to come to any indefensible conclusions, which is all we can ask for.The other part of the book that could have been difficult is the mathematics I have had the background and training to get through most of the mathematics, most of the concepts were on an advanced undergraduate to graduate level, John Urschel s teaching ability was evident and shone through in his explanations of some of theadvanced mathematics topics I moved away from any thoughts of majoring in mathematics after my initial experience with real analysis, so I was cognizant but not an expert in many of the areas but I was able to understand his explanations of his work in Graph Theory, algorithm development, uncertainty, and spectral bisection His explanations assume some background in math, but he was able communicate to the readers in an exceptionally clear fashion just in terms of concepts and intuition and without employing any mathematical language In fact, intuition was his guiding light as he powered through his way through his mathematical explorations, and he was able to explain the role that intuition played in his mathematical thoughts.The football portions of the story were told somewhat matter of factly I would imagine that this was intentional, as the authors may have assumed that the general public who would read this book are thoroughly engaged in the intensity and passions of football in America Two parts of the football story engaged me his freshman year workouts with his strength and condition coach at Penn State and the Raven s win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and loss to the New England Patriots in the NFL playoffs Those stories captured and conveyed the passion that John Urschel had of the game of football as well as the mindset he employed to become successful in football.In possibly one of the great acts in self awareness and honesty comes in the last chapter when he describes why he walked away from football and is devoting his considerable intellect to mathematics Unlike most great athletes, he recognized his shortcomings and he was able to explain his logic and reasoning for walking away with aplomb and honesty.I was a nice easy read but the book talks about the mathematics that he is doing as well as taking the reader though his life so far I think that our culture s preoccupation with specialization drives our internal narrative We are expected to focus and be great at one thing, that one thing should give us all a good life while contributing to the orderly conduct of our life in society, but we all know that human beings are complex, and our intellect can be multi faceted What John Urschel s story illustrates is that by exceeding societal expectations in terms of what his role is in life, he is staking his claim as a polymath.This was, a very enjoyable and entertaining read
In alternating chapters of Mind and Matter, John Urschel takes you through his life in mathematics and his life in football As Sullivan Jones reads the book aloud for Audible, he completely becomes John Urschel s voice, except in those instances when he changes his voice to become a roommate, one of Urschel s math teachers or mathematician colleagues, or one of his coaches in high school in Buffalo, at Penn State and yes he is there when the abuse scandal hits and at the NFL s Balti R In alternating chapters of Mind and Matter, John Urschel takes you through his life in mathematics and his life in football As Sullivan Jones reads the book aloud for Audible, he completely becomes John Urschel s voice, except in those instances when he changes his voice to become a roommate, one of Urschel s math teachers or mathematician colleagues, or one of his coaches in high school in Buffalo, at Penn State and yes he is there when the abuse scandal hits and at the NFL s Balti Ravens You are never in any doubt that it is Urschel talking I highly recommend approaching this as an audio book.The most striking aspect of the story is the simplicity and clarity with which Urschel introduces us to most of the main aspects of being a mathematician, not only what it means to be a mathematician in habits of thought and approach, but also in clear and brief descriptions of a lot of key mathematical concepts, such as graph, matrix, vector, eigenvalue seriously, i have never understand what that was all about until now and including the main idea of differential calculus, probability, the law of large numbers, voronoi diagrams, and even Simpson s Paradox Believe me, if there is anyone who is well suited to being a professor of mathematics, it s John Urschel He could probably explain four dimensional graphics to you over the phone To explain and describe math concepts in a way that works in an audio book that s a gift I would listen to that part of the book all over again, if I didn t have to listen to the part about football Not that I didn t like hearing about his football career It was rendered with suspense there are some real surprises and, like the math chapters, with a considerable amount of humor Football, both playing and enjoying, is a part of the lives of many men I was like I can t believe I am walking around Staples with headphones on laughing my ass off about 5th degree polynomial equations and that happened in the football chapters too.Another thing to think about as you are enjoying this book is that mathematician Urschel is married to biographer and New Yorker contributing writer Louisa Thomas, which I m not sure is mentioned in the text I promise you will love the last sentence of this book, which she made possible I hope this book is super influential, so I m giving it five stars, but even if it s not I enjoyed reading it
John Urschel deserves a biography Not many people are NFL starters, and not many are research mathematicians The one who checks both boxes is an interesting character As a mathematician and a football fan, I guess I m the target market.Unfortunately, the book felt rushed to me Urschel, who was on the football team at Penn State when news of the sex abuse scandal broke, does acknowledge the gravity of the program s betrayal of trust, but almost in passing he moves rather quickly to the tea John Urschel deserves a biography Not many people are NFL starters, and not many are research mathematicians The one who checks both boxes is an interesting character As a mathematician and a football fan, I guess I m the target market.Unfortunately, the book felt rushed to me Urschel, who was on the football team at Penn State when news of the sex abuse scandal broke, does acknowledge the gravity of the program s betrayal of trust, but almost in passing he moves rather quickly to the team s performance on the field His concussion and subsequent retirement, too, are described, but not in the depth I would have wished.Urschel does a good job of expressing his interest in mathematics, the difficulty of pursuing both math and football, and the ways people around him reacted to his unusual gifts I enjoyed this, and wish he could have taken us a bit deeper into his world