Jason Kelce tearily announces NFL retirement after 13 years with Eagles

Click to play video: '‘Hungry dogs run faster’: Jason Kelce fights back tears as Eagles centre announces retirement'
‘Hungry dogs run faster’: Jason Kelce fights back tears as Eagles centre announces retirement
"Hungry dogs run faster": Jason Kelce fights back tears as Eagles centre announces retirement – Mar 4, 2024

It’s an emotional day to be a Philadelphia Eagles fan.

During a press conference on Monday, the Eagles’ star centre Jason Kelce announced he would be retiring from the NFL after 13 seasons.

Kelce, 36, was visibly emotional even before making the announcement at Philadelphia’s NovaCare Complex, often sobbing as he tried to compose himself. It took Kelce over a minute to begin reading a pre-prepared statement from his cellphone.

In his 45-minute speech, Kelce reflected on his football career, his family and what will inevitably become his widely celebrated legacy in the sport.

“I’ve been asked many times why did I choose football — what drew me to the game — and I never have an answer that gets it right,” Kelce reflected through tears.

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He said his love for football is the same as what draws someone to their favourite song or book.

“It’s what it makes you feel. The seriousness of it. The intensity of it,” he revered.

A brotherly bond

As Kelce gave his emotional speech, his brother and Kansas City Chiefs tight end, Travis Kelce, sat front row alongside Kelce’s wife, Kylie, and their parents, Donna and Ed. Travis (who is also famously Taylor Swift’s boyfriend) wiped away tears as his older brother spoke.

Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni was also present at the press conference.

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Kelce spoke at length about Travis, and said the siblings have always celebrated one another’s accomplishments, including their respective NFL drafts.

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“We have a small family. No cousins, one aunt, one uncle. It was really my brother and I our whole lives,” Jason explained. “We did almost everything together — competed, fought, laughed, cried and learned from each other.”

He said he and Travis would often imagine themselves as the NFL’s “star players” during their childhood games.

“We won countless Super Bowls in our minds before ever leaving the house,” he reminisced.

The love of the game

Kelce has often been celebrated for his obvious, unfettered adoration for football and his Eagles team.

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“Stepping on the field was the most alive and free I had ever felt,” Kelce sniffled, reflecting on how he developed his passion for football. “There was a visceral feeling with football, unlike any sport. The hairs on my arms would stand up. I could hit somebody, run around like a crazed lunatic and then get told, ‘Good job.’ I love football.”

Kelce said he “couldn’t have dreamt” of a better NFL team to play for than the Eagles.

“Although last season truly sucked, I wouldn’t trade my team with you or those teams for the world. Everything happens for a reason. And I truly enjoyed my time with you, coach,” Kelce said, directing attention to Sirianni.

“Sometimes, the flowers get knocked back a bit, but the roots remain. And I can’t wait to watch as it re-blossoms next season,” he said.

The end of an era

For many Eagles fans, Kelce’s retirement comes as an emotional blow.

“It is difficult to put into words how much Jason Kelce has meant to everyone in this organization, to the City of Philadelphia, and to our fans,” Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said in a lengthy statement.

“He gave everything he had to all of us for 13 years, and he did it in a way that was truly authentic. Jason was an incredible football player; a future Hall of Famer who would have been successful anywhere. But has there ever been a more perfect marriage between a player, a city, and a team?

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“His intelligence and versatility, from starting as a rookie center in a lockout season to thriving under multiple coaches and offensive schemes, set him apart from others at his position,” Lurie continued. “The genuine love and care he showed his coaches, teammates, and staff endeared him to all he worked alongside. The passion and intensity that he poured into everything he did, both on and off the field, made a city fall in love.”

Jason Kelce of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates on the field after defeating the New York Giants 38-7 in the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia, Penn. Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images

“He is a man of many talents – he could chug beers with fans at a tailgate, he could sing in a Christmas album and raise millions for charity, or he could talk X’s and O’s all day with coaches and teammates. Then after all of that, he could do things out on the football field that no other offensive linemen are capable of doing,” Lurie gushed.

“Although Jason is retiring from the NFL, I have no doubt that he will continue to be successful in everything he does, and his impact on our organization and this city will reverberate for many years to come,” Lurie concluded, adding that he personally wished Jason and his family the best.

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Kelce’s announcement puts an end to speculation among NFL fans about whether the centre would play one final season in 2024.

During his 13-year career with the Eagles, Kelce and the team made six post-season appearances and played in two Super Bowls, including a Super Bowl LII win in 2018. Kelce was a sixth-round draft to the Eagles in 2011 and remained with the team through the entirety time in the NFL. Kelce is also a seven-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro selection.

Click to play video: 'Eagles’ Kelce gives passionate speech at Super Bowl parade'
Eagles’ Kelce gives passionate speech at Super Bowl parade

He has played in 193 NFL games throughout his career.

ESPN reported Cam Jurgens, who was a second-round draft pick for the Eagles in 2022, is positioned to take over Kelce’s position on the team.

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