Breaking News: Eagles great Jason Kelce has officially announced his retirement from the NFL

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Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Monday, Dec. 18, 2023, in Seattle. The Seahawks won 20-17. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Philadelphia Eagles beloved center Jason Kelce announced earlier this afternoon that he will retire after an illustrious 13-year career. After nearly a two month wait after the playoff loss to Tampa to highlight a disappointing end to the season, the 36-year-old held a press conference highlighting his career, thanking coaches, teammates, staff members and his family.

Last year, Kelce waited until March 13th to announce he was returning for another season after losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII, to anchor the offensive line and to return to the big game. Of course, that did not happen with the team going into a tailspin the final two months of the season.

Kelce was emotional during his press conference and rightfully so. The man who wears his heart on the sleeve showed with his emotion to start his speech that this was not an easy decision for him to make.

His career arc was one that no one could have predicted when he was selected by the Eagles in the 6th round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Cincinnati, reached new heights, pun intended, as a center. As he said earlier today in his press conference, “It all felt too perfect when the Eagles selected me in the 6th round.”

Here’s a speech he made to his teammates highlighting his underdog journey to just stay in the league:

Despite being looked at as too small, or not talented to stick in the NFL, Kelce showed the perseverance that is revered in Philadelphia to become the stalwart in the middle of the Eagles’ offensive line. In turn, he also became the most popular center and offensive lineman in the league throughout the majority of his career. Thousands of fans proudly wear his #62 jersey attending games at Lincoln Financial Field or at their favorite sports bar in the suburbs to watch a game. They will continue to do so as he joins a timeless club of other Eagles’ legends that fans proudly wear their jerseys long after their playing days.

However, he didn’t do it without sacrifice. If you watched the ‘Kelce’ Documentary on Amazon, one of the most eye-opening moments during the documentary is when Kelce is hobbling around his family home with ice packs and heat compresses wrapped around his legs and body while he lays on his couch. It showed fans what exactly he goes through on a weekly basis just to get on the field each and every week all while trying to be a father to his young three children and a husband to his supportive wife, Kylee.

Eagles great going out on top…

Jason Kelce eagles super bowl
FILE – Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce (62) blocks during an NFL Football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023. Eagles center Jason Kelce has told teammates he intends to retire after 13 NFL seasons, according to three people informed of the decision. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, out of respect for Kelce’s decision, which has not yet been made public. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth, File)

Only a few names come to mind such as Barry Sanders and John Elway when it comes to NFL players who were able to hang it up while still playing at a high level. Specifically, regarding the Eagles, Brian Westbrook comes to mind. Kelce will join that limited group. He owns the franchise record for consecutive starts, played 193 games for the franchise, was a seven-time Pro Bowler, a six-time First Team All-Pro selection, a Super Bowl Champion, and the top center in the league for the majority of his career. He will undoubtedly be enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame in five years when he is first eligible to be on the ballot.

His on the field success along with his ability to connect with the fan base has planted himself on the Mt. Rushmore of Philadelphia athletes in the eyes of the city and the fans. He is Philly. He understands what it means to play in the city and to give back to the community that gives so much to the team every single day during the season and beyond. Kelce put it in words what it takes to play in the city that expects 100% every day.

The countless memories and interactions Kelce has had with the fans will be remembered forever, especially his Super Bowl parade speech on the Art Museum steps in his mummer suit. A speech he said today, “wrote itself and what symbolizes the city. That wasn’t my speech, that was Philadelphia’s.”

There hasn’t been another athlete that has connected with Philadelphia the way Kelce has. His off-field relationships with the community and fans parallels his play on the field. As he said today:

“This city will love you, the way you love it. Like a brother.”

-Jason Kelce

Kelce in the Broadcast Booth?

Jason Kelce
Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce walks off the field following an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, in Tampa, Fla. The Buccaneers won 32-9. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

So, what’s next for Kelce? Ever since Adam Schefter reported that this decision was made up after the loss to Tampa in the playoffs, there’s been speculation that the 36-year-old could join a broadcast booth in the very near future.

According to Front Office Sports, he already had meetings with FOX and ESPN about joining their broadcast team in some capacity. Kelce flashed what he could bring to the booth during the Eagles’ bye week, sitting in on a Thursday Night Football game on Amazon. He can have his pick of the litter in terms of which network he would want to work with, all would want to bring the combination of his good-natured, funny, and “I’m just a regular guy who happens to play football” mantra combined with his incredible knowledge of the game to their booth or studio panel. It will resonate with the nation.

He could also continue to build his podcast “New Heights”, which he co-hosts with his brother, Travis, of the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s one of the top-rated sports podcasts and has been extremely successful since its launch. Perhaps, he takes a Pat McAffe approach and has the podcast syndicated into a show on one of the networks.

Regardless, Kelce has options and whatever he chooses, he’s destined to be just as successful as he was on the gridiron.

AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson