Eagles icon Jason Kelce confirms retirement at emotional press conference

Jason Kelce has announced his retirement after 13 seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kelce – the older brother of the Kansas City Chiefs’ three-time Super Bowl champion Travis – was picked by the Eagles in the sixth round of the 2011 draft and spent his entire career with the franchise.

He was a key member of the team which beat the New England Patriots at Super Bowl LII in February 2018, also coming up just short against the Chiefs at Super Bowl LVII last year.

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Kelce has reportedly contemplated retiring on several occasions in recent years, and ESPN reported the 36-year-old had informed his team-mates that his playing days were over after the Eagles’ surprise wild-card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January.

Having called a press conference to make an announcement on his future on Monday, a visibly emotional Kelce confirmed his time in the league was up, stopping his speech on multiple occasions as he burst into tears.

“I’ve been asked many times why I chose 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 favourite song or your favourite 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 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 loved football.

“Thank you, Philadelphia, from the bottom of my heart, for letting me into your homes every Sunday, it has truly been an honour.

“It had always been a goal of mine to play my whole career in one city, and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better one, for a better fit.

“I don’t know what’s next, but I look forward to the challenges, and I know that forever, we will all share this bond of being Philadelphians.”

The Eagles had planned ahead for Kelce’s retirement, taking Cam Jurgens in the second round of the 2022 draft to be his long-term successor at center.

Kelce ends his career with 193 regular-season starts to his name, having set a Philadelphia record by playing 156 consecutive regular-season games in a run dating back to the 2014 season.

He is one of just five centers in league history to receive at least six All-Pro selections, and he looks certain to follow the other four – Jim Otto, Bulldog Turner, Dermontti Dawson and Jim Ringo – into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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