Jason Kelce has been a fixture of the Philadelphia Eagles offense for more than a decade, but he’s been realistic about the idea of retirement.
Kelce was drafted in 2011, becoming the first rookie in Eagles history to start all 16 regular season games at center. He helped lead the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl victory in 2018, defeating the New England Patriots. Kelce appeared in the NFL championship once again in 2023, but the Eagles lost to the Kansas City Chiefs (and Travis Kelce, Jason’s younger brother) 38-35.
Football fans wondered whether Jason would retire following the Super Bowl LVII upset, but he ultimately decided in March 2023 that he wasn’t done yet. He pulled back the curtain on his thought process in the 2023 Prime Video documentary Kelce, which also featured his then-pregnant wife, Kylie Kelce. (The couple share three daughters.)
Kylie revealed in the film that Jason had been discussing retirement “for years,” adding, “I don’t think that people realize the beating you’re taking then impacts the way you interact with your family. … I always tell people, no matter what happens with football, how it ends, I would like him to retire when he is still able to get down on the floor and play with our kids comfortably.”
She noted, “I always am very quick to point out they’re compensated heavily, but it’s crazy as a 35-year-old man being in, like, a world of pain.”
Jason continued to impress Eagles fans on the field, breaking the team’s record for most consecutive stars after his 145th regular season game in October 2023.
What’s next for the athlete? Scroll down to see what Jason has said about retiring from the NFL:
After playfully announcing his NFL return by declaring via Instagram that he would only be retiring from “drunken arm wrestling,” Jason attempted to quiet the speculation for good. “I can’t say this enough. When I’ve decided to retire, you guys will know,” he told reporters. “It’ll be a very loud and emphatic statement.”
Jason noted that he was coming off of what was “one of the easier seasons” for him physically. “I feel good. I have my little stuff I gotta deal with here or there, and that’s annoying, but manageable,” he said, adding that playing pro football “takes its toll” on the body. “It’s hard to continue to do that. And you want to reflect after you’ve calmed down and after you’ve gotten back to normal and see if you can give that same emotion and energy that’s required to play at a high level.”
Jason threw fans for a loop in a hilarious social media video that showed him pouring himself a beer. “Got a lot of questions on the air yesterday about my future. So I decided I’d clear it up right now,” he said in a voiceover. “Unfortunately, I’ve decided to announce that I’m retiring … from hosting WIP [radio].”
Jason took a sip of his drink as the video continued. “I’m definitely not retiring from playing for the Philadelphia Eagles,” he asserted. “I’m having way too much fun doing that. I’m looking forward to another year, Philadelphia. And to all my teammates, let’s go dominate.”
During an episode of his “New Heights” podcast, Jason got emotional as he opened up about his next chapter in the NFL. “It’s a good question, I wish I knew the answer to it,” he said.
Travis predicted that his brother had two more years in him before officially retiring. “If I’m being honest my body is starting to fall apart,” Jason admitted. “This is my 12th year, I couldn’t even do training camp this year. I got surgery [on my elbow] at the beginning of it. … Every joint in my body could use a little cleanup.”
After losing to Travis and the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII, Jason was noncommittal about retirement. “I’m not saying that yet,” he insisted in a press conference. “We’ll see.”
One month later, Jason confirmed he wasn’t hanging up his helmet just yet. “I have put much thought into whether it makes sense to play another season. After talking it over with my wife and many other friends and family, I have decided to return for another year,” he tweeted. “Thank you to all my supporters and detractors for fueling me, I ain’t f–king done yet!”
Fans got an inside look at Jason’s decision-making process in the Prime Video documentary Kelce. “It’s getting harder and harder to play,” he confessed. “There have been little things that are not big things yet but are going to turn into big things the longer I play.”
While chatting with other former Eagles in an emotional scene, Jason admitted he felt “fearful” of the “long-term” effects football could have on his health. “If I get CTE and can’t interact with my grandkids, I would still say playing 12 years in the NFL, making my family prosperous and being an influential member of the city of Philadelphia is a good trade-off,” he said.
The film ends with Jason ultimately deciding to return for the 2023-2024 season, but not before breaking down in tears over his future. “I have no doubt I can be a loving father, no doubt I can be successful,” he said. “But where am I gonna be the best in the world at what I f–king do?”
Jason got candid about building a family empire outside of the NFL as “New Heights” continued to take off. “We took on a lot last year, and it ended up working out really, really well for Travis and I at the end of the season, although we did come up one game short,” he told The NFL Report, making a lighthearted joke about his Super Bowl loss.
He continued: “You know, I think it is a lot, and I think the way we’ve justified it as a family is that this is going to be over pretty soon here. If it’s this year, which it very well could be, we want to make sure that we’re ready to go when football is done, and with all of these different opportunities and things, to figure out what it is we want to do with our retirement. And then on top of that, just enjoy the last time you have left with the guys you have.”
Along with their podcast, Jason and his brother collaborated on a Christmas song for the Eagles’ second holiday album. “When these opportunities come up, you realize that the closer you are to the end of your career, the opportunities to do these fun and engaging things with fans and friends is going to be less and less,” he said. “You realize that, and it makes you want to do them that much more, because when it’s done, it’s not going to be there as much.”
Before the Eagles faced off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their wild card game, Jason gave an update on his mindset going into the remainder of the season. “I don’t feel comfortable worrying about [retirement] now or thinking about it,” he said during an appearance on 94WIP Morning Show. “Doing it any other way is a distraction in some regards.”
He later told NBC Sports Philly that potentially playing his last game wasn’t “the main thing” on his mind. “You know, whenever you’re older in your career, you never know when that’s going to be. … My dad’s told me this from the moment I started playing football, you step off the curb [wrong] one day and, you know, that could be the end of your career,” he said. “You try and approach every game with that mindset.”
Jason added, “Obviously, that’s not the main thing. The main thing is, you know, going out there and battling with each of the guys in this locker room. No matter how many more years I play or any of us play, this team right now only has one [guaranteed] game left, and that’s what we’re really focused on.”
The Eagles’ season ended with a 32-9 loss to the Buccaneers. Following reports that he informed his teammates of his planned retirement after the game, Jason got emotional while discussing his NFL future.
“I don’t know what next year is gonna look like with the team, coaches, players. … But I just want to make sure everybody knows how much I love and respect and appreciate the effort and energy they put into the year,” he said on an episode of his “New Heights” podcast. “I know the outcome, Philadelphia, was not acceptable. But I love each and every person in that room and I’ll always believe in them. I’ll always go to battle with each and every one of them.”
Jason noted that he intentionally didn’t announce his plans for the 2024-25 season right away, confirming that he “did address the team” after the game. “It’s just something that I think when it’s time to officially announce what’s happening in the future, it’ll be done in a way that’s definitive and pays respect to a lot of people and individuals that have meant a lot to me and what has led to the career that I’ve had,” he explained. “I don’t think that it would be respectful or even accurate to be able to do that right after a game like that. … In the future, there’ll be something said, I guess.”
“It’s exciting to think about possibilities, but it’s also waking up. It’s exciting to be able to lose weight [and] feel good and not have to physically fight for my life every day, but I think it’s also daunting,” Jason said during an episode of the “Green Light With Chris Long” podcast. “It’s anxiety and, at the end of the day, it’s the unknown.”
Jason further pointed out that every football star goes through a similar “level of depression” when they decide to hang up their cleats for good.
“You’re the end of what you — one of the things you — love most in your life is there, and you’re going to have to come to grips with that,” he added.