Eagles C Jason Kelce retires after 13 seasons

Field Level Media

March 04, 2024 at 7:48 pm.

A tearful Jason Kelce announced his retirement Monday after 13 seasons as the center for the Philadelphia Eagles.

The six-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowl selection started 205 games for the Eagles, including the postseason.

Drafted in the sixth round (191st overall) in 2011, Kelce became a Super Bowl LII champion and one of the most durable, decorated and respected centers in NFL history — and one of the league’s most passionate players.

He had trouble holding back those emotions from the outset of Monday’s press conference in Philadelphia.

“Not a good start,” said Kelce, who repeatedly fought through tears during a speech that lasted 45 minutes.

“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 said. “The best way I could explain it is what draws you to your favorite song … your favorite book. It’s what it makes you feel. The seriousness of it. The intensity of it.

“Stepping on the field was the most alive and free I had ever felt. 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 often played hurt and had not missed a start since Week 8 of the 2014 season, a franchise-record streak of 156 consecutive regular season games. His 193 career regular season starts rank second in Eagles history behind longtime teammate and defensive end Brandon Graham (195).

Kelce blocked for NFL rushing champion LeSean McCoy in 2013. More recently, he was a driving force for the wildly successful “tush push” with quarterback Jalen Hurts in short-yardage and goal-line situations. He played for head coaches Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, Doug Pederson and Nick Sirianni.

“It has always been a goal of mine to play my whole career in one city,” Kelce said. “I couldn’t have dreamt a better one if I tried.”

The other four centers in NFL history with at least six All-Pro selections are all in the Hall of Fame: Jim Otto, Bulldog Turner, Dermontti Dawson and Jim Ringo.

“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,” team owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “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?”

Kelce, 36, is the older brother of Kansas City Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce.

The siblings have a popular podcast and a broadcasting career is a potential next step for Jason Kelce. “Multiple” networks courted him ahead of Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, according to ESPN.

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