Jason Kelce on Why He Retired, His Meaningful Press Conference Outfit and Future Plans

The beloved Philadelphia Eagles center also reveals the 'one thing' he's 'really upset about' after retiring.

Jason Kelce is revealing the tipping point that led to his retirement. After confirming that he's hanging up his pads, the iconic Philadelphia Eagles center is opening up about the tough decision in a new episode of his podcast. 

"It's been a long time coming," Jason told his brother and co-host, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, on Wednesday's episode of New Heights. "I've debated retiring for the last few seasons, so I think it got to the point where I knew that that's what I wanted to do." 

The 36-year-old NFL star revealed that it was his body that told him it was officially time to call it quits. 

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"In previous years, I would reach out to other guys, like, 'Hey, how do you know when you want to stop playing?' or 'What do you think?'" he admitted. "The reality was, it was more firm than it's ever been this year that I just don't think physically I can compete at the level that I want to anymore." 

Jason continued, "My elbow and my knees, it's just gotten to the point where the deterioration and the recovery from that deterioration hasn't really manifested on game day yet, but I know it's gonna start doing that. ... I'm hard on myself, and if I go out there and I'm not the player that I want to be, it will crush me. So I feel very confident in the decision I've made. I know it's time. I've had a really good run, but that's the biggest reason why." 

He also opened up about the complex mix of emotions he's faced with while moving forward. 

"There will always be parts of me that want to go out on game day and play, and want to compete, and want to be there with your teammates. That stuff will never go away," he explained. "But just the physical portion is at a point that it's not a desire to continue to do, and not something I think I can do and be happy about it. So, yeah, it's over -- and that's good. I think it's certainly terrifying in some ways because I've only really played football my whole life, so we've gotta try and figure something else out."

Jason said he's both "incredibly excited" and "also nervous about what life is gonna look like now," but he's feeling good about the "opportunities" that are beginning to present themselves. Beyond new career moves, including the continuation of their podcast, Jason shared that he is looking forward to getting "skinny" and hopes to reach his goal weight of 250 pounds through simple calorie counting rather than an extreme diet regimen. 

"I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do during the season," he said. "Obviously I'm not going to be a full-time coach but is there a level that I can help out the team still or help out young guys, whatever, figure out if there's a role there." 

He added, "I look forward to doing something that's not football" as well. 

"I've been so committed to the sport for so long," he said, "you really, like, it's embarrassing when your wife knows how to do more housework." 

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Jason revealed that his wife, Kylie Kelce, is actually a relatively skilled electrician, having learned bits of the trade from her dad. 

"Shout-out to Ky for being the handyman around the house," Travis joked. 

"I like experiencing new things," Jason added, revealing that he hopes to learn how to make his own knife from a blacksmith. Travis was quick to say he'll tag along, declaring, "I want to make a sword." 

Jason did note that there was "one thing"  he's "disappointed" about amid his retirement. 

"I'm retiring when the Eagles had potentially the biggest collapse in the history of the organization," he allowed. "Not potentially, probably the most. And the reason I say that I'm upset about that is I really, truly think the Eagles are gonna ball out next year. I think all of those guys, there's still a tremendous amount of talent there. They've hired two really good coaches that are gonna be able to offer a new perspective and look at things with a fresh lens. I think Jalen Hurts is a tremendous quarterback. I know it wasn't a good end to the year for him, or anybody on offense, but there's still so many pieces." 

He continued, "I just really think there's gonna be one hell of a bounce back from the Philadelphia Eagles next year and it really pains me that, you know -- I'll be a part of it in some way, like, I'm still gonna go down to the facilities, I'm still gonna help out in any way that I can, but I'm also gonna be doing other things and I'm not gonna be on the field doing it with those guys. But I can damn sure at least appreciate it from afar. That is one thing I'm really upset about the timing of, but it is what it is. I'll have to enjoy it in a different way." 

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Elsewhere in the podcast, Jason addressed his mindful decision behind delivering his retirement address in a tattered black shirt and shorts rather than something more formal. 

"Suit and tie is what most people wear and I'm like, that wouldn't feel right, I don't think, for me," he said. 

Jason recalled dressing himself on Monday, debating whether he should wear a shirt from his hometown of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, or something from the Philadelphia Eagles franchise. 

"I open one of the drawers and this, like, shirt that has holes in it and I've worn to practice every year, I've lifted weights in it, and I'm like, you know what, this shirt in some ways was a part of this journey with me more than anything else in this closet," he said. "So I'll wear this." 

Jason's family -- including his wife, Kylie, mom, Donna Kelce, dad, Ed Kelce, and Travis -- were seated in the front row for moral support as the athlete sobbed his way through his moving speech on Monday. 

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Now, Travis is revealing that he had been privately holding out hope that Jason would return for another season, breaking down in tears as he marveled at his brother's career and leadership. 

"We did not talk much of your retirement," Travis said of their conversations in recent months, following a tough ending to the Eagles season in January. "I wanted to make sure that you didn't feel any pressure from me to keep going, knowing that I wanted you to keep going. I wanted you to keep playing this game." 

Jason joked, "Why didn't you tell me this? I would have changed my mind." 

"No, no, no," Travis replied. "You've always been a step ahead of me." 

Jason shrugged off the remark, saying simply, "I'm older, Trav." 

The 34-year-old Chiefs player assured his brother that he looks up to him in more ways than just age. 

"Yeah, but in this game alone, you've always been a step ahead of me and it's always been like I've had that flotation device right there," he explained, becoming choked up. 

"To have you out of it, man, it feels empty," Travis continued through tears.

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The waterworks prompted Jason to also begin breaking down again on the podcast, which was recorded less than 24 hours after his announcement. 

"It was a fun ass journey to watch," Travis managed to add. After a pause, he continued, "Like I said yesterday, man, I just appreciate you showing me the way and bringing us all along the journey with ya, big guy."

Jason remarked that they "showed each other the way" and reflected on what the upcoming season will look like for him. 

"I'm all done playing, but I'm still gonna be, I'm still going to the games," he shared. "Like I said, you know, you've been playing for a long time on your own and I look forward to being able to appreciate and watch your games more, and take in the bigger picture of football and everything that it has to offer while still remaining local in Philadelphia. I'll never not be there." 

Jason also expressed excitement at being able to spend time with his three young daughters -- Wyatt, 4, Elliotte, 3, and Bennett, 1 -- as they grow. 

"I didn't talk to you about it and I kinda let you do your own thing, and I couldn't have been more proud listening to you yesterday," Travis said. "It's been a lot of emotions. A lot of sad emotions, a lot of exciting emotions. I mean, you got the world in your f**king palm right now, dude, and you got three little ones I know you're dying to watch grow up. It's a lot of exciting future things that we have to look forward to." 

"Oh yeah," Jason replied. "Absolutely." 

During the show's "No Dumb Questions" segment, Jason was asked whether he'll maintain his loyalty as an Eagles fan or return to his roots as a fan of his hometown team, the Cleveland Browns. 

"I'm an Eagles first and foremost," he said, with Travis admitting that he's also now a Philly sports fan. 

"We are still Cleveland sports fans, I still cheer the Browns on and I did it my entire career. I'm always rooting for the Browns," he added, noting that he only feels conflicted when they would play the Eagles. 

He hinted that he will also continue to root for Travis' Chiefs, but added that he has a newfound affection for the Buffalo Bills after his headline-making antics at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, New York, in January. 

"They lured me in," he said. "Dude, they were so nice. ... They're an easy fourth at this point."