Eagles center Jason Kelce announces retirement

In an emotion-filled speech, Philadelphia Eagles center and sports personality Jason Kelce — older brother to Kansas City's Travis Kelce — announced his NFL retirement Monday. Kelce ends a 13-year career in professional football.



March 5, 2024 - 1:21 PM

Philadelphia Eagle Jason Kelce wipes tears up as he announces retirement at the Novacare Complex, Philadelphia on Monday, March 4, 2024. Photo by Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jason Kelce needed only seconds to burst into tears.

Kelce’s eyes flooded each time he relayed a story about backyard football games with his brother, the love he felt from his parents and the devotion of his coaches — even a band teacher — that shaped him along way. But it was his career with the Philadelphia Eagles that choked up Kelce the most. The Super Bowl. The parade. His beloved offensive line coach.

All of the memories, the wins, the brotherhood — both with his fellow Eagles players and younger brother Travis, a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs — consumed Kelce to the point where he needed about 45 minutes to reach the inevitable conclusion that everyone inside a crowded auditorium knew was coming from the moment a news conference was announced.

It was time to retire.

The 36-year-old Kelce officially called it quits Monday at the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex, ending a 13-year career spent entirely with Philadelphia in which he became not only one of the great centers of his era who played a key role in the franchise’s lone Super Bowl championship but a beloved Philly personality and popular podcast host.

“Let’s see how long this lasts,” said Kelce, wearing a sleeveless Eagles T-shirt, before he burst into tears and needed several moments to compose himself at the news conference attended by his parents, Ed and Donna, wife Kylie and Travis, who was wearing sunglasses inside the auditorium. Eagles coach Nick Sirianni sat behind reporters.

“I have been the underdog my entire career,” Kelce said. “And I mean it when I say it, I wish I still was.”

With Travis in the house, Kelce naturally had to pay homage to Taylor Swift, his brother’s girlfriend.

“It’s only too poetic I found my career being fulfilled in the city of brotherly love, I knew that relationship all too well,” Kelce said in a nod to Swift’s song “All Too Well.” He also referenced lyrics to Swift’s “Wildest Dreams.”

Kelce was a sixth-round pick out of Cincinnati in the 2011 draft. The burly, bushy-haired and bearded Kelce has been a stalwart of the offensive line since he was drafted and as an Iron Man after he missed most of the 2012 season with a partially torn MCL and torn ACL.

The moment that endeared him for life to the Philly faithful came at the Super Bowl parade following the 2017 season when he dressed as one of Philadelphia’s famed Mummers, and he delivered a fiery, profane speech that whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

“No one likes us! No one likes us! No one likes us! We don’t care,” Kelce exclaimed that day in February 2018. “We’re from Philly! (Expletive) Philly. No one likes us! We don’t care!”

Kelce recalled that moment Monday, saying: “I won’t forget the parade and what it meant to the city of Philadelphia. The joy in our community and the closure it gave so many.”

“That wasn’t my speech,” Kelce said. “It was Philadelphia’s.”

The Kelce brothers played each other in the Super Bowl two seasons ago, which was won by the Chiefs — “I won’t forget falling short to the Chiefs,” Jason said Monday — and co-host the “New Heights with Jason & Travis Kelce” podcast. Jason attended the Chiefs’ playoff game in frigid Buffalo temperatures this season. He ripped off his shirt and chugged beers as he sat in a suite with Swift.

It was the Jason Kelce way.

He’s been a showman off the football field, singing the national anthem at a 76ers game, partying with the Phillie Phanatic and pounding a beer to a roaring ovation at a Phillies postseason game.

But it was his work on the offensive line that made him a star. Kelce ended his career by making 156 straight starts, and he earned six All-Pro Team selections.

He was part of Philadelphia’s core four of stars that have experienced droughts and championship runs, multiple coaches and one of the worst collapses in the city’s sports history. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are the lone holdovers from former coach Andy Reid’s last season with the Eagles in 2012. Lane Johnson completes the four veteran anchors and was a rookie in former coach Chip Kelly’s first season in 2013.

January 16, 2024
October 1, 2021
April 16, 2019
April 16, 2018