John Urschel Mind and Matter Book Review: Life Lessons from a Mathematician & NFL Football Player |

Imagine having the mind of Srinivasan Ramanujan, the athleticism of Jim Thorpe, the creativity of Albert Einstein, and diligence like no other.

One man embodies all of these traits — John Urschel, a former NFL football player for the Baltimore Ravens and a renowned mathematician.

Join me on a journey of beautiful lessons in this book review of Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football by John Urschel and Louisa Thomas.

*For this book review, I read Urschel’s book, watched a couple of interviews, and perused through a few of his math papers.

Mind and Matter Book Review — Quick Takeaways

Review (5/5):

This book is a goldmine for people who like mathematics, college football, sports, and reading in general.

For the mathematician, there are mentions of John von Neumann, Pascal, Fermat, Heisenberg, Bernoulli, Kolmogorov, Leibniz, Newton, Godel, G.H. Hardy, Einstein and brief dives into the topics of probability, dynamical systems, Markov Chains, physics, measure theory, gambling, game theory, linear algebra, numerical analysis, set theory, and logic. For the football fan, there are references to locker room talks, deep friendships, training drills, college football season, tryouts, the NFL draft, CTE, concussions, injuries, and more.

Urschel reflects on the constant internal push and pull between doing mathematics and playing football. We learn how he developed these interests and navigated both spheres of his life without losing proficiency in either one. He ended up playing at the highest level in NFL with the Baltimore Ravens and completed his PhD in mathematics from MIT, specializing in linear algebra, graph theory, and numerical analysis. We also learn about important events that occurred during his education like the Jerry Sandusky scandal and how it impacted the Penn State community.

The Writing

Two aspects that I really enjoyed were how (1) the writing style matched (2) the content of the book. The book seamlessly alternates between football and mathematics at different stages of…



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