Jason Kelce retirement announcement: Eagles center calls it quits with emotional speech after Hall of Fame-worthy career

Author Photo
Jason Kelce
(Getty Images)

Jason Kelce spent 13 seasons as a mainstay in the middle of the Eagles' offensive line. Now, the center is calling it quits.

Kelce revealed Monday that he is retiring. The lifelong Eagle announced the decision in a news conference that was attended by media members and Kelce's family, including his brother, Travis.

Kelce's decision isn't a surprise. He was the subject of retirement rumors each of the previous two offseasons. He quashed the 2022 rumors in a video that showcased him tapping a keg sent to him by Nick Sirianni to convince him to play another season.

In 2023, Kelce simply announced his intention to return in a post to X (formerly Twitter). He wrote that he "ain't done ... yet" on eve of free agency and sought to avenge Philadelphia's Super Bowl 57 loss to Kansas City.

Kelce's message to fans during the 2024 NFL offseason was cryptic. He revealed he decided his playing status for 2024 but planned to address it at his news conference.

Many read the tea leaves and realized Kelce's non-announcement indicated he was calling it quits. And indeed, he did.

MORE: NFL world congratulates Jason Kelce ahead of reported retirement

Here's what to know about Kelce's career as he rides off into the sunset.

Why is Jason Kelce retiring?

Kelce didn't directly explain why he was retiring from the NFL, but he seemed to indicate that he doesn't believe he is as good as he once was at the end of his speech. 

"Today, I must admit. I am officially overrated," Kelce said. "Vastly overrated. I fought. It took a lot of hard work and determination getting here. I've been the underdog my entire career, and I mean this when I say this: I wish I still was. Few things gave me more joy than proving someone wrong."

Kelce is coming off a third consecutive All-Pro first-team campaign, so his assertion will seem strange to some.

But Kelce is 36 years old, so he was perhaps acknowledging that it wouldn't be easy for him to continue his high-end play each season.

Either way, Kelce played 13 NFL seasons for the Eagles and noted in his speech that his goal was to play his entire career for one team. He accomplished that even despite a mid-career slump during which the Eagles were eager to trade him, so he is walking away from the spotlight having lived out his dream.

Jason Kelce retirement video

Kelce's retirement speech lasted 45 minutes, as he discussed his playing career, the relationships he forged in Philadelphia and how his family and coaches supported him throughout his life. He was visibly emotional during it, stopping on several occasions to gather himself with tears streaming down his face.

You can watch the entire speech below, courtesy of the Eagles.

Kelce made the rounds after the speech, giving hugs to his family members and Eagles front office personnel who were on-hand for the announcement.

Meanwhile, other members of the organization watched in the cafeteria, where the only sound heard was that of people crying, per NFL Network's Mike Garafolo.

And Eagles owner Jeff Lurie honored Kelce with a heartfelt statement posted to social media as he officially called it a career.

"It id difficult to put into words how much Jason Kelce has meant to everyone in this organization, to the city of Philadelphia, and to our fans,"  Lurie wrote, in part. "He gave everything he had to all of us for 13 years, and he did it in a way that was truly authentic. 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?"

Based on the love displayed between the two parties Monday, it's hard to argue against Lurie's point.

MORE: The story behind unflattering college photo of Jason and Travis Kelce

Jason Kelce stats

Kelce made 193 regular-season starts during his 13-year career with the Eagles and added 12 postseason starts to his resume. He established himself as one of the best centers in football, earning six AP All-Pro first-team nominations, all of which came over a seven-year period from 2017 to 2023.

Kelce graded as Pro Football Focus' top overall center for three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019. He checked in among the top 10 centers in nine of his 12 qualified seasons and hardly ever allowed sacks during his NFL career.

Kelce's stats were buoyed by his Super Bowl 52 win over the Patriots in 2018. He made it to Super Bowl 57 and squared off against his brother Travis in the famous "Kelce Bowl" in 2023, but the Eagles lost that contest by a field goal.

As he ends his career with the team, Philadelphia fans will remember Kelce for his toughness, athleticism and larger-than-life personality. And the next stop on the Ohio native's football journey should be in the hallowed halls at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Will Jason Kelce be a Hall of Famer?

Kelce seems likely to be a Hall of Famer with his career now over. His six All-Pro first-team nods are tied for the second-most by a pure center in NFL history with Dermontti Dawson. Both he and Jim Otto — who ranks ahead of Kelce with 10 All-Pro nods — are in the Hall of Fame.

Kelce's Super Bowl ring should help his cause too. Why? Only two of the seven pure centers in the Hall of Fame — Mike Webster and Jim Langer — have won championships during their careers. Kelce ranking top-three in both All-Pro nods and Super Bowl wins at his position should help him emerge as a quality candidate.

Pro Football Reference gives Kelce a Hall of Fame score of 78.53. That ranks lower than the average score of a Hall of Fame center (103) and below six of the seven players at the position. It's good for the highest mark among non-Hall of Fame centers, however, so that should give Kelce a chance to get in.

When factoring in Kelce's big personality and his role in the Kelce Bowl, he should eventually earn enshrinement honors in Canton. He could be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but if not, it won't take him long to get in.

And depending on how long Travis plays, the two Kelces may be enshrined as part of the same class.

Jacob Camenker Photo

Jacob Camenker is a senior content producer at The Sporting News.