May 25, 2024

Jason Kelce Retires from NFL After 13 Seasons: Read His Full, 40-Minute Speech

The Philadelphia Eagles center held a press conference to announce his retirement from the league after 13 years on the team

Jason Kelce has officially hung up his cleats and retired from the NFL.

The Philadelphia Eagles center, 36, held an emotional press conference on Monday to announce that he would end his professional career after 13 years. Attended by his wife Kylie, brother Travis and parents Donna and Ed, the conference saw Jason deliver a tearful 40-minute speech confirming his retirement.

Early Monday morning, the football star posted on X that an announcement would be imminent, hinting that he would address rumors about whether his time in the league was over. Speculation arose around Jason’s retirement after he was visibly emotional following a Wild Card round loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January that ended the Eagles’ season.

“I think when it’s time to officially announce what’s happening in the future, it will be done in a way that will be definitive,” he said on his New Heights podcast two days later.

Recognized as one of the greatest centers in NFL history, Jason finishes his time in the City of Brotherly Love with a Super Bowl title, six All-Pro selections and seven stints on the Pro Bowl team.

Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce (62) looks on during the game between the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles on November 26, 2023

JASON: Thanks for coming guys. See how long this lasts. [Pauses to keep from crying] Not a good start. Here we go. This is gonna be long.

There I lay, face up in the cool morning’s dew-covered grass. Waiting for a whistle I knew would come at any second. Knowing full well Anthony Harrell was a couple yards away on the ground waiting for the same. The foreign objects that rest upon my shoulders and head weighed me down and unbalanced my weighty body. As the whistle blew, I arose, turned all in one motion and ran at my teammate. It isn’t even the collision I remember most, but the feeling before, of what in the f— is about to happen? How was it going to feel when I win? Whenever I smell the clippings of a freshly mowed grass, I am brought back to this day. Twelve years old, Roxboro Middle School, first day in pads. I’ve been asked many times why I chose football, why I chose the game and I never have an answer that gets it right. The best way I can 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. It was a visceral feeling with football unlike any other 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. Whether it was in the backyard with my brother, in the playground with my friends or suiting up Friday nights at Cleveland Heights High School. I loved everything about it. Although I hadn’t met him yet, Jeff Stoutland often shares a quote his father would tell him: “More often than not, the easy way is the wrong way.” Football was hard. Much harder than any sport I had ever played, physically and mentally. In most other sports I was bigger, faster, stronger than anyone else. On the football field these traits were matched. On the lacrosse field I felt like LeBron James. On the football field I was Billy Hoyle. I loved the challenge that football was. The joy of winning, the agony of defeat, the anxiety of the unknown and the camaraderie of my teammates. I’d like to thank my high school football coaches, Mike Jones, Damion Creel, Kahari Hicks and Gary Robowski — Coach Robo, you know who you are. My hockey coaches Kurt Gunther, Steve Bogas and Eddie Babcox and my lacrosse coaches Felipe Quintana and Ben Beckman. I’d also like to thank my band teacher Brett Baker. All of you taught me countless lessons and put up with a very young, rambunctious kid that was full of immaturity, stupidity and cockiness. I would without question not be where I am today without your efforts with me and the countless other children you served in my brother and I’s hometown Cleveland Heights.

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