Kelce on how he'll know it's time to retire


It's easy to try and get into Jason Kelce's head and assume that if the Eagles win the Super Bowl, he's going to walk off into the sunset.

That would be two Super Bowl championships, five all-pros, six Pro Bowls and 147 consecutive starts over the last nine years under three head coaches.

Kelce, now 35, is the Eagles' oldest all-pro since Vic Lindskog in 1951, and the second-oldest all-pro center in the NFL since 1960.

He's the only 6th-round pick in the last 60 years to make five all-pro teams.

If the Eagles beat the Chiefs a week from Sunday in Super Bowl LVII in Arizona, Kelce would become only the second center in history with two championships and five all-pros. The other is Hall of Famer Mike Webster from the Steelers.

Kelce is already one of the greatest Eagles of all-time and one of the greatest centers of all-time. A win Sunday would only add to what's already a no-brainer Hall of Fame resume.

Would that make it easier to walk away?

Kelce isn't thinking that way.

He said Friday that winning another Super Bowl won't affect his decision whether to return in 2023 for a 13th season with the Eagles, a plateau only six players have reached -- only Harold Carmichael, Brian Dawkins and Brandon Graham since 1960.

"From everything I've been told about when you know it's time to retire or not, you just know when you know, and it's going to be when you don't want to play football anymore," he said. "And I don't think that winning this game is going to determine whether I want to continue to play football or not."

Kelce recalled a conversation with legendary offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland about retirement when he first started considering stepping away from the game.

"I remember talking to Stout maybe two years ago, and I was like, I don't know when that time's going to come or how I'm going to know when to stop," Kelce said. "And he's like, 'You'll know. You won't want to do it anymore.

"And I said, 'I don't think that's ever going to happen and he's like, 'No, it'll happen. Trust me, it'll happen.'"

Kelce has said for several years now that he goes into every season with an open mind and then takes some time after the season is over to let his body heal before deciding whether to play another year.

The Eagles have been accommodating by giving him fair one-year contracts, and Kelce lets them know what he's thinking as soon as he decides so they can plan for the offseason.

Kelce said Howard Mudd, his offensive line coach the first two seasons, gave him some pretty good advice on the topic.

"Howard Mudd, before he passed, gave me the advice, 'When in doubt, don't,'" he said. "You can use that for anything, by the way, not just retirement."

It's hard to imagine this football team without Jason Kelce. He's been here so long he played with Michael Vick, Mike Kafka and Asante Samuel.

He was a rookie in 2011 when the Eagles put together the ill-fated "Dream Team."

The Eagles' last opening-day center other than Kelce was Mike McGlynn.

That day is approaching. Nobody knows when.

Including Kelce.

"Yeah, I don't know when that's going to happen," he said. "Obviously, I contemplate it every offseason at this point, but I'm just going to appreciate the next week and a half with the guys in this room and all the coaches and hopefully put together another special game to end the season."

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