Watch : Donna Kelce heartbroken and sobbed as son Jason Kelce announces retirement

Jason Kelce has made it official.

The Philadelphia Eagles center, who was drafted by the team in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, has announced his decision to retire from the NFL after 13 seasons in the league, seven Pro Bowl selections, six first-team All-Pro selections and one Super Bowl title.

In an emotional press conference at the Philadelphia Eagles Training Center at the NovaCare Complex, Kelce reminisced about his love of the game, which began when he was a boy in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
“Stepping on the field was the most alive and free I had ever felt,” he said. “It was a visceral feeling with football unlike any other sport.”

The father of three also thanked numerous coaches, teammates and “cafeteria workers” along the way, too numerous to name, he said.

In his lengthy speech, in which Kelce paused numerous times to hold back tears, the NFL star also paid tribute to the special bond he has with his brother, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, and said before speaking about their brotherly bond: “This is where it’s going to go off the rails.”

“We won countless Super Bowls in our minds, before even leaving the house,” Jason said, recalling their days playing football, armed with Capri Sun drinks which their mom, Donna Kelce, packed for them.

Kelce, 36, who posted on X early Monday morning that his decision was forthcoming, had been mulling the issue for more than a year.

In his Prime documentary that debuted last year, the toll that the game was taking on his health — and the effect it was having on his young family — was a running theme.

After a “disappointing” end to the Eagles’ season, which came to a close when they lost a wild-card playoff game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 32-9, on Jan. 15, Kelce’s decision was seemingly etched on his face after the game.

During the final play, Kelce hugged his longtime offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. Then, the father-of-three choked back tears and searched for his family, including his wife, Kylie Kelce, and father, Ed Kelce, in the stands.

Despite separate reports that stated Kelce had announced his intention to retire to teammates following the game, the Eagles star later clarified that he had not made a decision at the time.
“I think when it’s time to officially announce what’s happening in the future, it will be done in a way that will be definitive,” he said on his New Heights podcast two days later. “With respect to individuals who have meant a lot for me and what has led to the career I’ve had.”

Earlier this season, Kelce broke a long-held Eagles record for most consecutive starts, but his career — in which he is widely considered to be among the greatest centers in NFL history — has not been without injuries.

In 2012, Kelce tore his MCL and suffered a partial tear to his ACL. In 2018, he played through the season with a Grade 2 MCL sprain and injuries to his foot, elbow and shoulder.

Following the Eagles’ unsuccessful Super Bowl bid against his brother, Travis Kelce, and the Kansas City Chiefs last season, he lamented in Kelce documentary, “Every logical thing is telling me I should stop playing football. I’ve got to tear my body apart.”

“It’s getting harder and harder to play,” he said at one point. “There have been little things that are not big things yet but are going to turn into big things the longer I play.”

He was also candid about his concerns as a father to three young daughters — Wyatt, 4, Elliotte, 3, and Bennett, 12 months.

“I am fearful about what the impacts of playing football are going to mean long-term,” he shared in an emotional scene with retired Eagles player Connor Barwin, “I have two girls and … some people end up getting CTE and some guys live long, healthy lives. I have no idea what’s gonna happen.”

Now, Jason Kelce stands squarely at the center of a new chapter.

In late January, Kelce told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he hoped to stay involved with the Eagles organization in some way, even if he’s not on the field.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen for me, but I do know I still want to be involved in the organization and still want to be a part of it — regardless of what the decision is,” he told the newspaper. “Because I don’t want to ever feel like I’m on the outside looking in on these achievements and these accolades and these opportunities that largely represent entire cities and fan bases and organizations.”

During his New Heights podcast earlier in January, he shared with Travis what he said to his fellow teammates following what ended up being his final game in the NFL.

“I did address the team and pretty much said, ‘I [believe] in every single one of you guys,’ ” he recalled. “‘Cherish your moments in this league.’ ”

He added, “That’s kind of the way it went down. A lot of guys [said], ‘If that’s your last game, I feel sorry for you.’ Don’t feel sorry for me, mother——-,” Jason said, and then took a moment to compose himself. “Well either way, I truly appreciated everybody in that room, and I’d go to war with them any day of the week… Enjoy the time you got.”