Eagles players discuss Jason Kelce’s impact after last game: ‘He’s a legend in the city, really in the league’ (2024)

UPDATE: Eagles center Jason Kelce told teammates he plans to retire after Monday night’s playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to an ESPN report. Read more here.

TAMPA, Fla. — With his duffle bag in tow and his signature flip flops on his feet, Eagles center Jason Kelce politely declined to speak to the gaggle of reporters that crowded his stall in the middle of the visitor’s locker room at Raymond James Stadium.

“No, guys,” Kelce said as he headed toward the exit. “Not today.”

No, Kelce wasn’t ready to speak on his NFL future just moments removed from the Eagles’ staggering 32-9 wild-card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night. But the emotion that clouded his eyes on the sideline when he embraced offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland turned to tears as he walked down the hall to the locker room, speaking volumes without Kelce uttering a word.

» READ MORE: From cattle farming to blocking bags: Inside Jason Kelce’s mentorship ahead of a potentially fateful playoff run

The backdrop of an ugly wild-card contest to cap off an ugly stretch in which the Eagles went 1-6 to conclude the season raises the question that remains unanswered for now: Was that Kelce’s final game of his career?

“He’s hinted at it,” right tackle Lane Johnson said after the game. “I think it’s going to have to be him to make that call. But I was playing it like it was his last. You never know.”

As it pertains to Kelce, the Eagles have been here before. For the last two offseasons, Kelce has mulled over retirement. He decided to return to the team on one-year deals on both occasions. Despite the Eagles’ wild-card exit to the Buccaneers in 2021, Kelce was encouraged by the Eagles’ future with quarterback Jalen Hurts at the helm. Kelce wasn’t quite ready to hang up the cleats in 2022 after the Super Bowl loss to his brother, Travis, and the Kansas City Chiefs whet his appetite for another shot at a Lombardi Trophy.

Hurts hasn’t known an Eagles world where there haven’t been questions surrounding Kelce’s future. But regardless of Kelce’s next move, he’ll always have a special place in his quarterback’s heart.

“He’s a legend in the city, really in the league,” Hurts said. “I don’t want to do a disservice to him and the things he’s been able to do and overcome. His journey to where he is now didn’t come easy. It’s been a long, long time coming for him. Every year since I’ve been here has been, ‘Do you want to come back?’ But he knows. He knows how much I love and appreciate him.”

If that was the end, it was an unceremonious send-off for the Eagles’ seven-time Pro Bowl and six-time All-Pro center. Without top receiver A.J. Brown due to a knee injury and with Hurts fighting through an injury to his middle finger on his throwing hand, the Eagles offense never found their groove against the Todd Bowles-led Bucs defense.

» READ MORE: Sielski: The Eagles are at a crossroads. And Jeffrey Lurie faces the biggest choice of his tenure.

They struggled against the Bucs’ infamous blitz. Hurts was sacked three times and forced into an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone for a safety. They failed to run the ball efficiently, posting just 42 yards on 15 carries, marking their worst performance on the ground this season. The Eagles played from behind all night and were shut out in the second half. They accumulated just 276 net yards of offense to the Bucs’ 426 and failed to convert on a single third down (0-for-9).

But as their ship sunk in Tampa Bay, Kelce did his best to keep his teammates’ spirits buoyed.

“He’s a true leader ‘til the final whistle,” left tackle Jordan Mailata said. “Being real positive. Trying to get the guys’ spirits up and get us going. He’s a true leader to the final whistle, and that’s why I love him. The guy taught me how to lead.”

If there was any doubt, the Eagles didn’t sound like a team ready to move on from Kelce. After the game, coach Nick Sirianni said, “He’s always got a place here and I’ll always want him to play. We’ll see what happens as time progresses here.”

That decision will come in due time after spending some of it with family. With the release of his Prime Video documentary “Kelce” late last year, Kelce declared that football is a family story. He continued to live by that mantra in the twilight of his career. As he came off the field, an emotional Kelce sought out his wife, Kylie, and his father, Ed, before trotting up the tunnel and to the locker room.

Kelce has family in the locker room, too. That won’t change even if his playing status does.

» READ MORE: Brandon Graham said he’ll retire after next season, but will his ‘farewell tour’ be with the Eagles?

“I love him,” Johnson said. “He’s one of my brothers. I never had a brother growing up. I was an only child. So these guys are my family. I love him. He’s one of the best centers to ever play the game. There are few guys who can do the things he can do on the football field athletically.

“I don’t think we’ll see another like him for a long time.”

Eagles players discuss Jason Kelce’s impact after last game: ‘He’s a legend in the city, really in the league’ (2024)


What were the quotes from Jason Kelce's retirement speech? ›

I have been the underdog my entire career and I mean this when I say it, I wish I still was. Few things gave me more joy than proving someone wrong. My mother used to tell people, and still says to this day, 'If you want Jason to do something, all you have to do is tell him he can't.

Did Jason Kelce lose his Super Bowl ring? ›

The real ring, however, was never found even after a metal detector was used to try and locate it. “We have still yet to find it,” Kelce said. “All of this stuff has been thrown away. So I think we can safely assume that my Super Bowl ring is now in a landfill someplace in the Cincinnati tri-state area.”

How long was Jason Kelce's retirement speech? ›

On Monday, longtime Eagles center Jason Kelce announced his retirement with a nearly 45-minute speech that was full of tears, memories, and thank yous.

Why is Jason Kelce quitting football? ›

Kelce sensed his time had come, largely due to lingering injuries. "The physical portion is at a point that it's not a desire to continue to do," he explained.

What is a quote from famous Jason Kelce? ›

Jason Kelce Quotes
  • I've heard a lot of motivational speakers throughout the years. ...
  • I think weak leaders start pointing fingers when times get tough. ...
  • I think as a leader, you just take accountability. ...
  • I've always felt that you know you have a really good team when your best players are your hardest workers.

Was Jason Kelce's ring found? ›

Unfortunately, no one produced the real one following an exhaustive search. During the previous New Heights episode, Jason speculated that his ring was still in the pool of chili, which was now in a landfill somewhere.

Did Jason really lose his ring? ›

On Wednesday's episode of his podcast, Kelce revealed he lost his ring in a pool of Skyline Chili, which was part of the event's Lombaby Games, a competition between student-athletes and academics.

Has Travis Kelce won a Super Bowl ring? ›

Another Instagram post from Kansas City and the NFL shows both Mahomes and Kelce rocking their three Super Bowl rings.

What did Jason Kelce's wife have? ›

What did Jason Kelce say about Nick Foles in his retirement speech? ›

"I'll never forget Nick Foles having the game of his life on the biggest stage possible and the biggest d--k on the team, going up to Doug Pederson and asking for the Philly Special," Kelce said. "And Doug Pederson having the biggest balls in the stadium, to say 'Yeah, let's do it. '"

What did Jason Kelce say about Chip Kelly? ›

During an interview on 94 WIP, Kelce said he thought players were treated fairly well, citing a number fo Kelly's initiatives to keep them at their peak. “This is like one of the most pampered practice schedules I've been a part of to tell you truth,” Kelce said, via Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com.

Is Jason Kelce retiring in 2024? ›

In a surprising move, former Philadelphia Eagles star Jason Kelce has officially joined ESPN as an analyst, the network announced on Tuesday. Kelce, who retired from the NFL in March after 13 years with the Eagles, will be a part of ESPN's lineup for the 2024 season and beyond.

Is Kelce underpaid? ›

Under his current contract, Kelce has an average annual salary of roughly $14.3 million. This upcoming season, his $11.25 million base salary will rank as the 54th-highest in the NFL, according to Vanity Fair.

Has Jason Kelce ever given up a sack? ›

Kelce was dominant

A sixth round pick, Kelce has been one of the most dominant and efficient NFL players in league history. According to Pro Football Focus, Kelce has allowed just 19 sacks on 7,944 career pass-blocking snaps. In 2023, Kelce was credited with allowing one sack, one hit, and 13 hurries.

What did Ed Kelce say about Jason's retirement? ›

“I've always said, Jason will quit when he's determined that he's had enough. I think we may be there. I don't have inside information. He talks as if he's retiring,” Ed said during a January 2024 appearance on the “Baskin & Phelps” podcast.

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