The unusual story of former Canisius High School and Penn State football standout John Urschel’s gets another telling on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” at 10 p.m. Tuesday on the pay-cable channel.
In a segment titled “A Beautiful Mind,” the feature about the 6-3, 300 pound plus Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman notes that he is pursuing a doctorate in mathematics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) after receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Penn State.
Urschel’s incredible mind has been featured in several stories through the years and even in an advertisement in which he tries to teach Houston star J.J. Watt how to use Bose headphones.
Here’s how “Real Sports” summarizes the piece: “Despite the seemingly sharp contrast between high-level thinking and violent, high-impact sports, Urschel believes many similarities exist between his two very different careers.
"Real Sports" correspondent Bernard Goldberg sits down with Urschel to discuss his road to the NFL, future in mathematics and decision to continue playing football, despite the increased risk of brain injury."
The second “Real Sports” story Tuesday that airs almost two weeks before the Super Bowl also deals with football and from the summary it appears to be a much sadder one.
Titled “A Football Tragedy,” correspondent Jon Frankel spent six years working on a report on the late fullback Kevin Turner, his son Nolan “and their bond through football.”
Turner was a former University of Alabama fullback who played eight seasons in the NFL with the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles.
According to HBO, after retiring “he developed an addiction to painkillers, suffered from depression and was ultimately diagnosed with the terminal disease ALS in 2010.” Frankel then began documenting Turner’s life “as his body deteriorated and he came to grips with the fact that the game he loved had probably caused his ALS.”
Turner died last year at the age 46.
HBO said in the six years that Frankel reported on Turner’s life, the former NFL player “revealed how he wrestled with allowing his son, Nolan, to play football, and the comfort he received knowing he would do so under the guidance of former Alabama teammate Dabo Swinney, the Clemson University head coach who recently led his team to a national championship.”
-- John Urschel's off-the-field brilliance at Penn State
-- Why would super-smart Urschel play football? Let him tell you.
-- Ravens make the smart choice and select Urschel