Jason Kelce

Jason Kelce explains how he knew it was time to retire

A few days after his retirement press conference, Jason Kelce explained why now was the right time to retire.

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Eagles legend Jason Kelce retired from the NFL on Monday with a 41-minute emotional speech from the auditorium at the NovaCare Complex.

The one thing he left out?

Kelce, 36, didn’t explain why this was the right time to walk away from the game. But on the New Heights podcast, brother Travis asked Kelce who helped him get to his decision and Kelce explained the whole thought process.

“Me. I think that’s how I knew,” he said on New Heights. “In previous years, I would reach out to other guys, like, ‘Hey, how do you know when you want to stop playing?’ Or, ‘Stout (offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland), what do you think?’ 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. And really compete the way I want to. My elbow and my knees, it’s just gotten to the point that the deterioration and the recovery from that deterioration, it hasn’t really manifested on game day yet but I know it’s going to start doing that. 

“And I’d really rather not … I’m hard on myself. If I go out there and i’m not the player that I want to be, it’ll crush me. I feel very confident in the decision I’ve made. I know that it’s time. I’ve had a really good run. But that’s the biggest reason why.”

In 13 seasons, Kelce started 193 regular season games and 12 playoff games. He ended his career having started an incredible 156 games in a row, which is an Eagles record. Kelce surpassed Jon Runyan’s mark of 144 from 2000-08 during the 2023 season.

When Runyan reached out to congratulate Kelce in October, Kelce — in typical Kelce fashion — told Runyan that his overall streak of 192 games was way more impressive.

In addition to owning the Eagles’ consecutive starts streak, Kelce is second all-time in games played with 193. He trails just his longtime teammate Brandon Graham, who has played in 195 games. The top three all-time are Graham (195), Kelce (193), and Fletcher Cox and David Akers (both 188).

Being an Iron Man will be part of Kelce’s legacy in Philly. He played through countless injuries and nicks and bruises and still managed to find a way to suit up on Sundays. It’s impressive self-awareness to see things getting tougher because of those physical ailments and to walk away after another All-Pro season.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Kelce said on New Heights. “Obviously, I’ve debated retiring for the last few seasons. So I think it got to the point where I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”

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