Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce announces he is retiring from the NFL

Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce is retiring from the NFL, the 36-year-old announced at an emotional news conference Monday.

Likely a future Pro Football Hall of Famer, Kelce is a seven-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro selection. He spent his entire 13-season NFL career with the Eagles, including the team’s 2018 Super Bowl win.

During a lengthy news conference lasting around 40 minutes, Kelce broke down in tears on numerous occasions as he explained what football has meant to him during his childhood and professional career.

“I’ve been asked many times why did I choose football, what drew me to the game, and I never have an answer that gets it right,” he said.

“The best way I can explain it is what draws you to your favorite song, your favorite 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.”

Following the Eagles’ 32-9 playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January, it was reported Kelce had told his teammates he was retiring.

However, he declined to make his retirement official, raising the question of whether he might return for one final year with the Eagles.

But on Monday, he tearfully announced the end of his playing career at a news conference attended by his family and Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni.

“It took a lot of hard work and determination getting here,” said Kelce. “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.”

During the announcement, Kelce paid tribute to, among others, his former coaches and teammates, the fans in Philadelphia, and his family, notably his brother.

Jason Kelce spent his entire 13-season NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles, including the team's 2018 Super Bowl win. - Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Jason Kelce spent his entire 13-season NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles, including the team's 2018 Super Bowl win. - Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

In 2023, Kelce’s Eagles came up short in Super Bowl LVII against the Kansas City Chiefs and his younger brother Travis – the first time that two brothers played against each other in a Super Bowl.

“There is no chance I would be here without the bond Travis and I share,” said Kelce. “It made me stronger, tougher, smarter and taught me the values of cooperation, loyalty, patience and understanding.

“It’s only too poetic I found my career being fulfilled in the City of Brotherly Love. I knew that relationship all too well.”

In a statement Monday, Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said it is “difficult to put into words how much Jason Kelce has meant” to the organization, the city, and the fans.

“He gave everything he had to all of us for 13 years, and he did it in a way that was truly authentic,” Lurie added.

“Jason was an incredible football player; a future Hall of Famer who would have been successful anywhere. But has there ever been a more perfect marriage between a player, a city, and a team?”

CNN’s Thomas Schlachter contributed to this report.

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