Jason Kelce retiring as one of the most popular Eagles ever (2024)

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Update 3/4: After initial reports in January that Jason Kelce had told the team he was done playing , a few days later, he said he may or may not be retiring. He’s now made that final decision, announcing this afternoon that he’s officially retired.

It wasn’t supposed to end this way.

After considering stepping away from the game last season, Eagles center Jason Kelce decided to play again after the Birds fell just short of another Super Bowl win against his brother’s Kansas City Chiefs.

But now, after a monumental collapse that saw the Eagles completely fizzle over the final month and a half of the season, Kelce says he’s done. The NFL posted the announcement on social media this morning.

Eagles center Jason Kelce informs teammates he is retiring. (via @MikeGarafolo) pic.twitter.com/RnhxpfIVc9

— NFL (@NFL) January 16, 2024

His football stats are undeniable. He was selected for the Pro Bowl seven times, named a first team All-Pro six times. He was a six time team captain, an integral part of the Eagles first-ever Super Bowl win, and he started all 193 games in his career.

But separate from his play on the field– and despite how his career ended– Kelce has given Eagles fans more than enough enjoyment both on and off the gridiron. He will likely go down as one of the most popular players the team has ever seen.

Here’s a short list of some of the things we’ll remember the most:

Mummers outfit (and epic speech) upstages Super Bowl parade

The Eagles’ first Super Bowl win drew millions to Center City in February 2018 to see the team parade through the streets. No one embraced the celebration more than Kelce, who donned a green-sequined Mummers outfit (giant hat and all) for his trip through the city.

Along the way, Kelce’s costume became the image of the parade. Kelce further embodied the emotions of the day in his blistering– and supremely “Philly”– speech from atop the Art Museum steps.

Jason Kelce retiring as one of the most popular Eagles ever (2)

With his voice failing, Kelce created a rallying cry that remains imprinted on the hearts of Eagles fans: “No one likes us, we don’t care.” The full speech – peppered with profanity — is worth revisiting, if for nothing else to remember better times and to revisit other portions that remain ingrained in the pantheon of team slogans including “hungry dogs run faster” and “we all we got.”

Fans embraced the speech so hard, that the text of the speech was quickly reproduced on T-shirts, posters and plaques that still adorn fan caves throughout the region.

“Fairytale of Philadelphia”

Maybe even a bigger surprise than the Eagles winning Super Bowl LII is the team’s success, led by Kelce, on the music charts. Building off the unexpected success of their first Christmas album in 2022, Kelce and the fellas put out a second collection of Christmas songs in 2023.

Jason Kelce retiring as one of the most popular Eagles ever (3)

Perhaps thanks in part to Travis Kelce’s relationship with Taylor Swift, the Kelce brothers duet on the “Fairytale of Philadelphia” soared up the iTunes charts, becoming the most downloaded single in mid-November.

“Fairytale” was the third single released from their second Christmas album featuring the vocal stylings of Kelce, Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson.

The first album raised $1.25 million for charity, while their sophom*ore effort did even better, more than doubling its haul for charity to the tune of $3 million.

The second album also saw Kelce and others transform into stop-motion animated characters for a seven-minute Christmas special produced by a pair of local Philly artists.

Beer chugging for charity

Music isn’t the only hidden skill Kelce has up his sleeve that he’s been able to use to help support charity groups.

In October 2022, the Eagles were on a hot streak (again starting the season undefeated) and so were the Phillies, who were two games away from a World Series berth. Before the Phils NLCS game 3 contest, Kelce took to the field at Citizens Bank Park alongside the Phanatic and another man dressed in the now-famous Mummers outfit.

The Phillies faithful roared as Kelce embraced the Phanatic in a bear hug before he knelt and chugged a full can of beer.

Jason Kelce retiring as one of the most popular Eagles ever (4)

The moment of crossover support from Kelce for the Phillies apparently worked, the Phils won Game 3 and made it to the World Series. (Yes, they eventually lost 4-2 to the Astros, but that’s beside the point.)

The beer chug became another signature moment for Kelce, something he’d repeat to help support charity the following summer.

Kelce’s brother Travis joined the celebrity bartending event in Sea Isle City, helping to raise nearly $400,000 for the Eagles Autism Foundation. The brothers also recorded a live episode of their hit podcast “New Heights.”

The most famous mother in football, Donna Kelce, was also on hand to support the effort.

“I knew he would be good at whatever he did,” Donna said at the time of her oldest son. “He was just somebody who had his own small little business. He was a very focused individual.”

Renaissance man gives back

Perhaps not surprising after the success of the two Christmas albums, but Kelce has been involved in music since he was a kid.

Donna Kelce said Jason loved to get up in front of people when he was young: he played the saxophone in high school and starred in a sixth-grade performance of the musical “Grease.”

Kelce brought the sax back out for a 2018 visit to Central High School in North Philadelphia. Kelce’s alma mater Cleveland Heights High in Ohio was visiting Central, so it just made sense for Kelce to rejoin his old band.

Sporting his high school letter jacket and a Central High beanie, Kelce reunited with the very same baritone sax he played as a student. He hadn’t picked up the instrument in 12 years.

Kelce played with the bands for a bit before sitting back to watch the concert and signing autographs. The visit showed how Cleveland Heights, and the old band, are still a big part of Kelce. “Before I was a Philadelphia Eagle and a Super Bowl champ,” he said, “I was a Cleveland Heights Tiger.”

That high school connection continues in the title of the Kelce brothers podcast, “New Heights.”

What’s next?

Perhaps new heights is exactly what the future holds for Kelce after football. In an Amazon documentary chronicling Kelce’s 2022 season and beyond, he talks about grappling with the decision to retire and what life will be like post-NFL.

Kelce talks about the possibility of cattle ranching after purchasing a herd of cattle in Missouri, but it seems more likely that he’ll continue podcasting with his brother Travis, who has had quite a bump in popularity this past year thanks to his connection with the most popular pop star on the planet.

It also seems a strong possibility that Kelce will show up in an NFL broadcast booth in the near future. He made a well-reviewed guest appearance on Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime in November beside veteran broadcaster Al Michaels.

Wherever Kelce lands next, his success both on and off the field has secured his spot among the pinnacle of Philadelphia fan favorites.

Jason Kelce retiring as one of the most popular Eagles ever (2024)
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