NFL

Jason Kelce Bids Farewell to the NFL

Per reports following Monday night’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Eagles’ center Jason Kelce announced his retirement from the league to his teammates. This news follows the Eagles’ upset against the Buccaneers, where they lost 9-32 in the wild-card round of the playoffs. 

The Eagles’ center will be bidding farewell to his 13 seasons in the NFL, where he spent the entirety of his career in Philadelphia. After his lengthy and successful career, the 36-year-old will leave his mark on the Eagles franchise. 

Kelce’s Early Life & Collegiate Career:

Kelce grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, alongside his younger brother, Travis Kelce, who is the current tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. The brothers attended Cleveland Heights High School, and Jason found himself playing running back and linebacker for his high school football team. In his senior season, Jason made 105 tackles as a linebacker and averaged 9.5 rushing yards as a running back.

Kelce was part of the 2006 recruiting class and found himself as a walk-on running back at the University of Cincinnati in 2006, where Travis would join him on the team just two years later. After redshirting for the Cincinnati Bearcats his freshman year, Jason decided to convert to the guard and center positions. 

In 2007, Kelce competed as a center and guard in 9 games. That season, Jason was part of the Bearcats record-breaking offensive line team that scored 472 points in a single season, averaging 36.3 points per game. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Jason competed as a left guard where he helped his team clinch an average of 27.3 points per game in his sophomore season. 

Kelce finally got moved to center for his senior season with the Bearcats. In his final season with Cincinnati, the Ohio native was named Honorable Mention All-American and second-team All-Big East. Following his senior season with the Bearcats, Jason found himself prepared to take the next step in his football career as he declared for the 2011 NFL Draft. 

The Legacy Jason Leaves Behind with the Eagles:

After declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft, Kelce was projected to be a fourth-round pick as he ran the fastest 40-yard dash of all offensive linemen in the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine. Despite being projected as a fourth-round pick, Kelce got drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth draft round as the 191st pick. 

Kelce had signed a 4-year contract with the team at the time and would extend his contract for another six years in 2014. After being drafted, the Ohio native made his NFL debut in the first game of the 2011 season against the St. Louis Rams, where Philadelphia would win 31-13. In his NFL debut season, Jason became the first Eagles rookie to start in every game after competing in all 16. 

Kelce would spend the entirety of his career with the Eagles and became a crucial player in helping the franchise secure its first Super Bowl title in the team’s history in 2018. The 2017-18 season was deemed one of Kelce’s best professional seasons, as he started in all 16 games of the regular season and was the highest-ranked offensive lineman in the NFL at the time. The Eagles’ center was also selected as a First-team All-Pro that season. 

In Super Bowl LII, Jason helped the Eagles secure the title after competing against the New England Patriots and clinching a 41-33 win over the team. While his on-field performance was impressive, the professional athlete garnered the most attention from fans during the Eagles’ Super Bowl Parade, in which he dressed up in a costume and gave a passionate speech to Eagles fans about waiting 52 years for the Super Bowl title to come to Philadelphia. 

Kelce would continue playing for the Eagles in the following seasons and continued to start in the franchise’s games. Ahead of the 2022 NFL offseason, it was believed that Kelce was planning on retiring. Still, the Eagles’ center decided to sign a new one-year contract with Philadelphia, which led him to another chance at securing a Super Bowl ring. 

The following season, the Eagles competed in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs. This Super Bowl was highly anticipated among fans as Jason Kelce would face off against his brother Travis Kelce, and fans named the anticipated game the “Kelce Bowl.” Unfortunately for Jason, the Eagles fell short of the Chiefs by three points, and Jason lost his chance at securing a second Super Bowl ring. 

The End of an Era:

Kelce leaves his career with the Eagles and NFL on a sad note as the 2018 Super Bowl champions lost to the Buccaneers in this year’s wild-card round of the playoffs. The Philadelphia franchise also lost six of their last seven games this 2023-24 season. 

Throughout his 13 seasons with the Eagles, Jason secured a Super Bowl win, played and started in 193 games, and made six All-Pro appearances, and seven Pro Bowl appearances. Despite his impressive on-field statistics, the Ohio native hosts one of the top sports podcasts called New Heights alongside his brother, Travis Kelce. Jason also garnered some attention this past season after Travis started his relationship with legendary singer Taylor Swift which helped boost podcast ratings and draw the media’s attention to the Kelce brothers. 

Despite the season not ending as Kelce had initially anticipated, the 36-year-old is bidding farewell to his career and will be known as one of the best centers to grace the NFL. Many believe the Ohio native will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame following his impressive 13-season career. As Jason closes one chapter of his career, it will be interesting to see what path the football personality takes.

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