Jason Kelce announces decision on retirement

(WPHL) — Philadelphia Eagles fans are dealing with some tough news after Jason Kelce revealed his much-anticipated decision on retirement.

The Eagles center posted on social media Monday morning, saying in part, “I have come to a decision and will address it at a press conference this afternoon.”

During that press conference, Kelce made it official. Sporting a cut-off Eagles T-shirt, the Ohio native said, while crying, that he is retiring after 13 seasons in the NFL.

“I love football,” he said, saying it didn’t matter if it was just in the backyard with his brother or on Friday nights in high school. He went on to thank coaches and other mentors from high school to college, the University of Cincinnati, the Eagles, and the fans.

Jason read the prepared message from his phone during the press conference, which was attended by the Kelce family — brother Travis, Donna ‘Mama Kelce,’ and father Ed Kelce — and multiple members of the Eagles coaching staff.

He went on to recount various memories from his childhood in Ohio to the final days of his career during the 45-minute press conference. Jason also paid tribute to his wife Kylie Kelce, with whom he shares three daughters, and his parents.

After tears, laughter, and many thanks to his biggest influences, Kelce announced he was retiring.

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

Jason Kelce #62 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on after an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on January 15, 2024, in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)

“I don’t know what’s next, but I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities that await,” Kelce added, before leaving the stage to hug his brother and parents.

Rumors about Kelce’s retirement started circulating after the Eagles lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 32-9, missing out on their chance at the playoffs. Kelce addressed those rumors in the days after the game during an episode of the “New Heights” podcast that he co-hosts with his brother, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

“(Head Coach) Nick (Sirianni) gave me an opportunity to talk but I didn’t announce what I was doing on purpose despite, I guess, what’s been leaked to the media. I just don’t think you’re in a position after a game like that to really make that decision,” Jason said at the time.

“A lot of guys were like, ‘If that is your last game, I feel sorry for you,’ and I’m like, ‘Don’t feel sorry for me,’” Jason added before he appeared to become overwhelmed with emotions.

A six-time All-Pro and future Hall of Famer, Jason had been hinting at his retirement since the end of the 2022 season following the Eagles’ loss to the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII. He was set to become a free agent in March.

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

Kelce spent his entire career with the Eagles, where he quickly became a well-loved icon for many Philadelphians near and far. 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 the ultimate underdog delivered a fiery, profane speech that whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

FILE – Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce speaks at the conclusion of the NFL team’s Super Bowl victory parade in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, Feb. 8, 2018. Jason Kelce has retired after 13 seasons with the Eagles. Kelce officially called it quits Monday, March 4, 2024, at the Eagles’ complex in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

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.

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

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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