The slam-dunk case for Jason Kelce to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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The slam-dunk case for Jason Kelce to make the Hall of Fame originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

I once made the mistake of asking Jason Kelce about the Hall of Fame.

He told me recognition is nice, but that’s not why he plays the game. He said he plays the game for the satisfaction of working together with a group of people all striving for the same thing and he plays the game for the camaraderie of the locker room and he plays the game because he loves to compete.

You get the feeling he’d rather be drinking a Pabst at the corner bar than standing in Canton accepting a gold jacket.

But Kelce has a very good chance of doing both those things five years after he retires. If he ever retires.

Kelce racked up Pro Bowl No. 5 Wednesday and next month he's got a shot at all-pro No. 4, and Kelce might not care about individual honors, but whether he likes it or not, he’s building a Hall of Fame resume.

RELATED: Two Eagles named to Pro Bowl roster

Kelce is 34, he’s finishing up his 12th season with the Eagles, and he’s every damn bit as good today as he’s ever been.

It’s remarkable, really.

He’s old, he’s beat up, he’s undersized, and all he does is go out and play out of his mind every year, every week, every snap.

Kelce has redefined the center position, turning what was traditionally a spot for the biggest, slowest guy on the team into a showcase for astonishing athleticism, off-the-charts leverage, unprecedented intelligence and surprising power.

That he’s been able to do it at this level for over a decade and now 119 games in a row is truly hard to believe.

Is this enough to get Kelce into the Hall of Fame?

Yes.

Without a doubt, yes.

Let’s consider Kelce’s chances to one day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Like it or not, Hall of Fame candidacy is often based largely on Pro Bowls and all-pro teams, especially for offensive linemen whose play can’t be easily quantified by stats.

Kelce is now the 12th center in NFL history to be named to five Pro Bowl teams and also named 1st-team all-pro three times.

The first 11? All in the Hall of Fame.

But let’s dig deeper.

He’s one of only seven centers in history who’ve made three all-pro teams and played for an NFL or Super Bowl champion.

And the only one in the last 40 years.

The others are Mel Hein with the Giants in the 1930s, Bulldog Turner with the Bears in the 1940s, Jim Ringo with the Packers and Frank Gatski of the Browns in the 1950s and Mike Webster with the Steelers and Jim Langer with the Dolphins in the 1970s.

Of all the football players who’ve lined up to play center in the NFL since 1980, Kelce is the only one to achieve the greatest team honor at least once and the greatest individual honor at least three times.

Kelce was a 6th-round pick and because he didn’t come into the NFL with the fanfare of a high draft pick or college star, it took four years before the league even noticed that he was playing at an extraordinary level.

But since 2014, there’ve been only nine other players at ANY position who’ve made five Pro Bowls and three all-pro teams. Only one of them is an offensive lineman – Cowboys guard Zack Martin – and only four of them have also won a Super Bowl (Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Antonio Brown, Bobby Wagner).

That’s the company Kelce is in.

He’s one of the best players in the NFL, one of the best centers in history and a Super Bowl champion. He’s the most durable center in the league and maybe it won’t help his Hall of Fame chances but anybody who dresses up as a Mummer and makes that legendary speech in front of the Art Museum after the Super Bowl parade deserves a little extra consideration as well.

Kelce missed most of 2012 with a knee injury, but since 2013 – a nine-year span – the Eagles have the No. 5 offense in the NFL. That’s with three head coaches, four offensive coordinators and seven quarterbacks.

What’s the common denominator?

You know the answer. The Hall of Fame center.

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