Eastman: A tribute to Jason Kelce

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Jason Kelce graphic. - Multimedia Editor / Drew Peltzman

Words cannot even begin to express how much Jason Kelce means to not only the Philadelphia Eagles organization but the entire city of Philadelphia.

Kelce might be the most iconic player in the franchise’s history. His 13-year career was highlighted by six First-Team All-Pro selections, and seven Pro Bowl nods and led him to the record for most consecutive starts in franchise history. Most importantly, he was a leader on the 2017 team that brought home the first Lombardi Trophy in franchise history. Kelce might be most remembered for giving his famous speech at the Super Bowl parade, donning a Mummers costume while passionately speaking on the underdog status of the team. 

What made Kelce so loveable was the way he embodied Philadelphia. He embraced the city unlike any other athlete. From being a walk-on fullback at the University of Cincinnati and becoming an undersized sixth-round pick in the NFL draft, Kelce was always the underdog in his career. The underdog mentality, as well as the work ethic and grit Kelce had, is something that the city identifies with and prides itself on. Throughout his entire time here, Kelce always understood that fact. He never took a play off and he never complained. The fanbase and city will never forget that.

Another aspect of Kelce that made him so beloved was the modesty he showed. So often when we got glimpses of Kelce’s personal life, we saw a father who loved to spend time with his wife and children. Kelce brought his family to events like the Pro Bowl, allowing his kids to make some memories with their father before he retired.

We also saw Kelce’s relationship with his brother Travis on their podcast “New Heights.” Anyone who watched or listened to the podcast saw how much love Jason had for his brother Travis. Even on the night of Super Bowl 57, undoubtedly one of the worst nights of Jason’s life, he still showed nothing but love and happiness for his brother. Kelce is a family man at the core. 

Another lasting part of Kelce’s legacy is the way he gave back to his community. As the holiday season rolled around, Kelce made his mark in the music industry. Kelce partnered with Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson to put out the album “A Philly Special Christmas,” providing many fans with a Christmas soundtrack to enjoy.

All proceeds were donated to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center. Kelce and his wife Kylie also worked closely with Eagles Autism Foundation throughout his career. Kelce’s Team 62 recently started fundraising at The Ocean Drive in Sea Isle City, with Kelce performing a bartender role that seemed to come second nature to him. Not only did he raise a lot of money for great causes, but he always found a way to do it in a way that embodied Philadelphia. 

Finally, Kelce cemented his legacy as the most beloved athlete the city has ever seen with his retirement press conference on Monday. In 45 minutes, Kelce told the story of his time in Philadelphia and how thankful he was for it all.

Listening to his speech felt like taking a tour of his career, and brought back so many great memories during his time as an Eagle. It was powerful, it was inspirational, and it was everything Kelce embodied during his career. Throughout the speech Kelce broke down into tears, showing how tough his decision was on him. Many fans felt the same type of emotion, showing an outpouring of love and congratulations for him on social media. 

The day will come when we talk about who will replace Kelce on the field as the new center for the Eagles. That day isn’t today. We understand that Kelce can never be truly replaced. He is the face of a city and symbolic of what it means to be a Philadelphian. His number 62 jersey will hang in the rafters of the Linc and he will be making a trip to Canton soon enough.

To Jason Kelce, enjoy as many kegs in retirement as you would like. Enjoy time with your family and enjoy all the business ventures you will pursue. Simply put, you earned it.

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