Brent Celek retires with passionate letter to Eagles fans

Reuben Frank
NBC Sports Philadelphia

Brent Celek, one of the greatest and most popular Eagles ever, formally announced his retirement Friday morning after spending his entire 11-year career with the Eagles.

Celek, whose final game was the Eagles' Super Bowl win over the Patriots, finished his career with 398 catches, fourth-most in Eagles history, and 4,998 yards, eighth-most in franchise history.

But he'll be remembered more for his unfailing unselfishness, his consistency and durability and the passion with which he played the game than any numbers.

Celek said goodbye in a letter posted Friday morning on the Eagles' website:

It has been an amazing journey - a journey that is now coming to an end. It's a big decision, but it's not a tough one: Though I know I'm still capable of playing football at a high level, and though I had offers to continue my NFL career, my heart told me that this was the time. The bottom line was this: When I thought long and hard about the prospect of putting on another uniform, it just seemed wrong. In the end, I couldn't do it. My career began, and ended, with the Philadelphia Eagles - and man, did we go out in style.

For the full letter, click here.

The Eagles released this statement from owner Jeff Lurie Friday morning:

Brent Celek embodies everything it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle. He will obviously be remembered as one of the most accomplished tight ends in Eagles history, but his impact on our franchise goes far beyond the statistics he compiled over the course of his career. Brent was one of the toughest, smartest, and most selfless players who has ever stepped on the field for us. He led by example not just in the way he played the game, but also in how he prepared and the way he carried himself around the building and in the community. He was genuine, honest and accountable and he always represented the organization with class. He gave everything he had to the team. No matter what he was asked to do, Brent always embraced his role in a way that set a wonderful example for his teammates and young athletes everywhere. It was a pleasure watching him grow into the player and man that he became. There is nobody more deserving to finish his career as a Super Bowl Champion. We are excited for him and his family as they embark on the next stage of their lives. Our doors are always open to Brent and he will be an Eagle forever.

The Eagles released Celek on March 13. If he never plays again, he'll be the first player to spend 10 or more years with the Eagles and never suit up in another uniform for a single game or practice since Andre Waters, a safety who played for the Eagles from 1984 through 1993.

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