Jason Kelce, the legendary center for the Philadelphia Eagles, has announced his retirement from the NFL after 13 incredible seasons. Kelce told teammates of his decision shortly following the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Kelce Leaves a Lasting Legacy in Philadelphia
The 34-year-old Kelce cements his legacy as one of the most beloved Eagles of all time. Drafted in the 6th round in 2011 out of Cincinnati, Kelce overcame long odds to become a cornerstone of the Eagles offense, making five Pro Bowls and earning four first-team All-Pro selections in his standout career.
Kelce was a key cog in the Eagles’ famous “Philly Special” trick play that helped deliver the franchise its first-ever Super Bowl championship in 2018 over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
“Jason Kelce will go down as a Philadelphia legend,” said Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni. “What he brought to this team and this city goes so far beyond his play on the field. He’s the ultimate competitor and the definition of an Philadelphia Eagle.”
Teammates and fans immediately took to social media to pay tribute to number 62. “The fire, passion and leadership that Kelce brought us all these years will be greatly missed,” tweeted defensive end Brandon Graham.
The End of the Kelce Era in the NFL
The retirement brings down the curtain on the concurrent careers of Jason Kelce and his brother, Kansas City Chiefs’ star tight end Travis Kelce.
Over the past decade, the Kelce brothers have become nearly as famous for their off-field antics and popularity as their on-field play. Jason Kelce made headlines when he dressed up as a Mummer and gave an impassioned, profanity-laced speech at the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade in 2018.
More recently, the brothers began hosting the popular “New Heights” podcast featuring intimate interviews with celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Guy Fieri.
With Travis still going strong in Kansas City at age 33, fans will hope the podcast continues, but Sunday likely marked the last time the brothers took an NFL field together.
What Comes Next for Kelce and the Eagles
At his retirement press conference on Wednesday, Kelce says he intends to spend more time with his family after years of grueling NFL seasons.
“I’ve finally reached the end of the road,” Kelce told reporters. “The fires inside me that fuel my passion for football have begun burning out.”
Kelce says head injuries did not play a role in his decision, though he admits to dealing with the cumulative effects of 13 years playing such a violent sport.
The Eagles will have a huge hole to fill at center heading into 2024. While successor Cam Jurgens showed promise filling in when Kelce dealt with injuries this past season, GM Howie Roseman will likely look to free agency and the draft to reinforce the position.
“It’s impossible to truly replace Jason’s leadership presence,” said Roseman, “But we will explore every option to ensure this team contends for championships going forward.”
At his emotional farewell press conference, Kelce says he takes comfort knowing the Eagles franchise is in good hands with young stars like QB Jalen Hurts and receivers DeVonta Smith, AJ Brown leading the way into the next era of Eagles football.
One things for certain – fans will never forget the legendary career of number 62.
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