Eagles' Jason Kelce announces his retirement after 13 NFL seasons

Eagles' legend Jason Kelce tearfully announced his retirement Monday, ending his 13-year career in Philadelphia. 

Kelce needed 45 minutes to recount his career from his childhood in Ohio to his final days with the Eagles through tears, laughter and many thanks to his biggest influences before he finally 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."

Kelce, 36, was drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft and went on to play the second-most games in franchise history.

He received seven Pro Bowl nods during his career and earned six First Team All Pro selections. 

"I consider it a great blessing to have played in the most passionate sports town in America," Kelce said while fighting back tears. 

"No one celebrates their own like the city of Philadelphia…athletes become demigods in this city, even ones whose deeds span decades before," Kelce said.

Kelce has endeared himself to Philadelphia and surrounding communities, whether it's singing Christmas carols with his fellow Eagles teammates or pulling up to a Broomall McDonald's to place his go-to breakfast order. 

"From the bottom of my heart: Thank you for letting me represent this city and allowing me into your homes every Sunday," Kelce said. "It has always been a goal of mine to play my whole career in one city, and I couldn't have dreamed of a better one and a better fit if I tried."


The Ohio native reflected on his career in football, dating back to his first memory of wearing football pads and the bond the sport brought to the Kelce brothers. 

"There's no chance I'd be here without the bond Travis and I share, it made me stronger, tougher, smarter, and taught me the values of cooperation, loyalty, patience and understanding," Kelce said. "It's only too poetic that I found my career being fulfilled in the City of Brotherly Love – I knew that relationship all too well." 

Kelce recalled his memories from the 2017-2018 championship season, and the uneasy feeling felt by the team after Carson Wentz's season-ending injury that paved the way for Nick Foles' improbable playoff run. 

"I won't forget Nick Foles having the game of his life on the biggest stage possible," said Kelce, who also reflected on the gutsy play calling of then-head coach Doug Pederson to pull off the play that will forever be known as "The Philly Special." 

"I won't forget the parade and what it meant to the city of Philadelphia, the joy it brought our community and the closure it gave to so many," Kelce said. "A speech that had written itself and one that had symbolized what we all lived as players, as a team and as a city – that wasn't my speech, it was Philadelphia's." 

Sirianni added to Kelce’s lore by shipping a keg of beer to the center’s home to entice him to return in 2022.

"No Keg videos this year," Kelce wrote Monday morning on social media.

Instead, he thanked a long list of mentors from his high school football, hockey and lacrosse coaches and his old band teachers at Cleveland Heights (Ohio) high school for putting up with a "rambunctious kid that was will full of immaturity, stupidly and cockiness."

He thanked his coaches at Cincinnati for believing he could play center, a fortuitous decision that made him a great fit in Philadelphia, then thanked his four coaches with the Eagles.

Kelce choked up again thanking Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie for his leadership and general manager Howie Roseman for drafting him. He shared memories of his Eagles career and said he would never forget the day Reid called to tell him Kelce had been drafted by the Eagles. Kelce’s father rushed into a room, "with tears streaming down his face," in pure joy of the moment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report