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Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce officially announces retirement

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce has officially retired from the NFL after 13 seasons.

Kelce held an emotional, 45-minute press conference Monday at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia, with his parents, Ed and Donna, and brother, Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, in attendance.

The 36-year-old wore a sleeveless Eagles T-shirt and immediately burst into tears.

“Let’s see how long this lasts,” Kelce said.

jason-kelce retires emotional

During his tear-filled press conference, Kelce recounted his storied career with the Eagles and thanked those who helped him reach new heights, both in Philadelphia and from his childhood.

Kelce played 13 seasons for the Eagles, won a Super Bowl and released two Christmas albums.

“It has always been a goal of mine to play my whole career in one city. And I couldn’t have dreamt a better one and a better fit if I tried,” Kelce said. “I don’t know what’s next, but I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities that await. And I know that I carry with me the lessons from my time here and that forever we can all share the bond of being Philadelphians.”

Philadelphia drafted Kelce in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL draft out of the University of Cincinnati. He played for four head coaches: Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, Doug Pederson and Nick Sirianni.

In his career, Kelce was named to seven Pro Bowls and named an All-Pro six times. He was both in 2023.

“I must admit, I am officially overrated. Vastly overrated,” Kelce said. “But it took a lot of hard work and determination getting here. I have been the underdog my entire career and I mean this when I say it, I wish I still was. Few things gave me more joy than proving someone wrong. My mother used to tell people and still says to this day, ‘If you want Jason to do something, all you have to is tell him he can’t.’ And that was true in more ways than I care to admit. I relish doubters, they fueled a fire within.”

Philadelphia Eagles play-by-play announcer Merrill Reese recaps Jason Kelce’s career


Kelce will be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2029.  

“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 owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a lengthy statement posted to X. “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?”

Highly regarded Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland posted a message on social media thanking Kelce.

“Jason, Some of my fondest coaching moments have been by your side these past 11 seasons. I’m so proud of the player you’ve worked to become and legacy you’ve built. I will miss having you by my side. It’s been my honor & I congratulate you on an incredible career,” Stoutland posted on X.

Kelce on Super Bowl LII parade speech

Kelce has become a legend in Philadelphia, both on and off the field. He adopted the city as his second home, and his 2018 rant during the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade will forever be remembered as one of the most memorable speeches in sports history.

The 36-year-old said Monday that the epic speech wasn’t his – it belongs to Philadelphia.

“I won’t forget the parade and what it meant to the city of Philadelphia. The joy it brought our community and the closure it gave to so many. The stories from fans that had been waiting generations for that moment fulfilled that triumph to another level,” Kelce said.

“On the route, I remember meeting a woman with ashes of a dead relative who she had promised wouldn’t miss the parade if the Eagles had ever won it. A speech that had written itself and one that symbolized what we all lived as players as a team and as a city. That wasn’t my speech. It was Philadelphia’s.”


“A great blessing to play” in Philadelphia

During his press conference, Kelce spoke about everyone who helped him along the way to an NFL Hall of Fame career – from his parents to his high school band teacher to Reid and Sirianni to Stoutland.

Kelce also spoke about his relationship with his brother and what it was like to play in the “most passionate sports town in America.”

“It’s only poetic that I found my career being fulfilled in the City of Brotherly Love,” Kelce said. “I knew that relationship all too well.”

Then, Kelce described what it takes for an athlete to excel in Philadelphia. 

“Some people struggle in this city. They can’t handle the boos, the media, or our fans,” Kelce said. “I consider it a great blessing to play in the most passionate sports town in America. The sense of urgency in this city to win has pushed our organization, has fueled it to take chances, fix problems and work tirelessly in an effort to win.”

Here’s more from Kelce about playing in Philadelphia.

“At times, you hate it as an athlete, especially those new to the city, but when you’ve been through it enough, you learn to appreciate it. No one celebrates their own like the City of Philadelphia. Athletes become demigods in this city, even ones who deeds span decades before. The Eagles are the No. 1 ticket in town, the most talked about thing in nearly every moment.

But [with] that amount of attention, you better be ready to overcome the lows that will happen and persevere in the face of the criticism. Yes, they will let you know when you are not performing well. Every time. But they will also love you if you show effort, aggression, desire, the will to fight. They will love you in this city if you love it the way you love your brother.

You will be loved by going above and beyond to show that you care because they care. They’ve been caring for generations in this town about this team and they aren’t about to accept excuses and soft-[expletive] nonsense representing the name on the front of the jersey, something they’ve invested their entire lives in. If you don’t like what the fans and media are saying as a player, it’s very easy. Love them. Treat them like your brothers. And go out and play your balls off. Wear your heart on your sleeve and I guarantee you change those narratives.”

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