Jason Kelce Breaks Down in Tears While Announcing Retirement From NFL

The legendary Philadelphia Eagles center has been with the team since 2011.

Jason Kelce is officially moving on. The celebrated 36-year-old Philadelphia Eagles center -- a Super Bowl champion, six-time All Pro honoree, seven-time Pro Bowl selection, and future Hall of Famer -- announced his retirement from the NFL in a press conference on Monday.

On hand for a show of support was Jason's brother, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. Their parents, Donna Kelce and Ed Kelce, were seated together with Travis in the front row of the presser. 

Jason's wife, Kylie Kelce, was also in attendance. 


Wearing a sleeveless black shirt and black shorts, Jason broke down in tears immediately upon taking a seat at the microphone inside the Eagles' NovaCare Complex. 

"Not a good start," he joked, pausing for several moments to catch his breath. "This is gonna be long." 

He went on to share stories about particularly poignant memories and turning points throughout his life and career.

"Stepping on the field was the most alive and free I had ever felt," he began. "I love football, whether it was in my backyard with my brother, on the playground with my friends, or suiting up on Friday nights at Cleveland Heights High School."

Jason made a point to thank his many teachers, coaches, teammates and staffers by name, sharing numerous anecdotes about his storied career. 

"Thirteen seasons in Philadelphia and I look back on a career filled with ups and downs," he remarked. 

Some of his most heartfelt comments came while discussing his relationship and professional rivalry with his brother.

"I won't forget falling short to the Chiefs," he said, pausing to wipe tears from his face and admitting, "This is where it's going to go off the rails."

After collecting himself, he continued to recall "the immense heartbreak" of losing Super Bowl LVII to Travis and his team, juxtaposed with "the amount of pride I had that my brother had climbed the mountain top once again."  

"It was really my brother and I our whole lives," Jason continued. "We did almost everything together -- competed, fought, laughed, cried, and learned from each other. We invented games, imagined ourselves as star players of that time. ... We won countless Super Bowls in our minds before ever leaving the house."

He added, "There is no chance I'd be here without the bond Travis and I share. It made me stronger, tougher, smarter. It taught me the values of cooperation, loyalty, patience and understanding. It's only too poetic I found my career being fulfilled in the City of Brotherly Love. I knew that relationship all too well."

For his part, Travis also appeared to be moved to tears in the audience. 

His voice broke again while recalling the night he met Kylie after attending an Eagles Christmas party. 

"I still remember the moment she walked in the door," he said. "The first instance is burned in my retina. It was like she glided through the opening, an aura around her. Then she started talking. And I thought, 'Man, is this what love feels like?' She was beautiful, and smart, serious yet playful, I knew it right away."

He continued to credit her with bringing out "the best" in him. 

"I think it's no coincidence I have enjoyed my best years of my career with Kylie by my side. Every accolade I have ever received has come with her in my life."

Lisa Lake/Getty Images

"I am retiring from the NFL," he concluded. "And today I must admit I am officially overrated. Vastly overrated. But f**k, it took a lot of hard work and determination getting here. I have been the underdog my entire career and I mean this when I say it, I wish I still was. Few things gave me more joy than proving someone wrong." 

Jason sparked speculation that he may have been considering retirement during the final game of the Philadelphia Eagles' latest NFL season, as the team suffered a tough season ending loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in January. During the game, Jason was seen becoming visibly emotional and fighting back tears. According to a report from ESPN, Jason indicated to his teammates that he planned to retire in the postgame locker room.

The athlete went on to address the rumors surrounding his career on the Jan. 17 episode of his New Heights podcast. 

"I just don't think you're in a position after a game like that to really make that decision. I just don't," he shared with Travis, with whom he co-hosts the show. "There's too much emotion in the moment, there's too much going down in the moment to really fully grasp that decision. I'm not trying to be dramatic and continue to draw this thing out. I'm really not. 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 I've had. And, you know, I don't think that it would be respectful or even accurate to be able to do that right after a game like that."

Jason admitted he felt "frustrated" by the way his team's 2023-2024 season fell apart in the end and that he did offer remarks to his teammates after their final game. 

"I did address the team and pretty much said the same thing that I just said to you," he said. "Which is just, 'I believe in every single one of you guys. Cherish the moments you have in this league.'" 

Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Jason has served as a starter with the Eagles since his first professional season in 2011, after he was drafted by the team in the sixth round. He has played in 193 career games and holds the franchise record for consecutive starts with 156. Today, he is widely regarded as one of the best NFL centers of all time. 

His team won Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots in 2018, with Jason cementing his legacy in Philadelphia during a victory parade. Dressed as a mummer, he delivered a fiery speech that would become an iconic moment in franchise history. 

In 2023, Jason and Travis became the the first brothers in NFL history to compete against each other in the Super Bowl. In the end, Travis' Chiefs came out on top with the Lombardi Trophy at Super Bowl LVII. 

Less than two weeks later, Kylie gave birth to the couple's third child. Kylie and Jason tied the knot in 2018 and today are the parents of daughters Wyatt, 4, Elliotte, 3, and Bennett, 1.

NFL/Walt Disney World

Jason's 2022-2023 season was featured in the Amazon Prime documentary, Kelce. While the athlete toyed with the idea of retiring at the time, he ultimately returned for another season. 

In November, Jason received an unexpected career honor when he was named among People's Sexiest Man Alive finalists

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder..." he tweeted at the time. 

Meanwhile, 34-year-old Travis recently told reporters that he has no plans to end his own football career anytime soon. 

"I have no reason to stop playing football," he said in a press conference. "I love it, we still have success, come in with the right mindset. I just love the challenge that it gives me every single day to try and be my best. Like I said, I have no desire to stop anytime soon." 

Ryan Kang/Getty Images

On the Feb. 21 episode of New Heights, Jason received a bit of perspective about retirement from two of his former teammates. 

"Let's move on to post career -- retirement," Jason said. 

"Yeah, let's talk retirement, Kelce," teased Beau Allen.

Beau, who retired in 2022, admitted that "it is different." 

"You don't have the intensity of football and that's something that's been a little bit of an adjustment," he explained. "The other thing about football is your failures and successes are measured in such a black and white way and that's something you get so accustomed to as a player and it's not like that in the real world." 

Chris Long, who retired in 2019, called the experience of retirement "a huge existential crisis." 

"Whether you think you're ready or not," he said, "your life changes."


Latest News