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Eagles’ Reaction to Kelce’s Retirement: ‘Forever Holds A Special Place in Our Hearts

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Eagles’ Reaction to Kelce’s Retirement: ‘Forever Holds A Special Place in Our Hearts

TAMPA – By not saying anything, Jason Kelce said a lot. As a crowd began to form a semicircle around his locker, waiting to hear from the Philadelphia Eagles center following their season-ending, 32-9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night, Kelce politely declined to talk.

“Not today, guys, sorry,” he said. “Take it easy.”

Kelce was on the verge of tears as he walked away. It had already been an emotional exit from the field and then, hours later, Kelce retired, a source confirmed.

“We had a discussion in here after the game,” said right tackle Lane Johnson, Kelce’s teammate since being drafted in 2013. “It’s going to be his announcement if he’s coming back or if he’s not. If it was his last game, he’s one of the best teammates I ever had, a guy whose passion was unmatched, a guy who I saw Philly try to run out of town two-thousand-whatever it was.

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“I saw a guy emerge from that and become the best center maybe that’s ever played. I was through all that. A special player. You’ll never be able to replace a guy like that.”

Jason Kelce
Jason Kelce retired after a 13-year, likely Hall of Fame career following the Philadelphia Eagles’ season-ending loss in Tampa. USA Today

Jason Kelce, 36, will go out on top. He was just named first-team All-Pro for the sixth time in his 13-year career, something no other center had done since the merger in 1970. Dermontti Dawson and Mike Webster did it five times and they are both in the Hall of Fame. He is just the third player in franchise history to earn six first-team All-Pro nods, joining Chuck Bednarik and Reggie White.

Kelce, who made seven Pro Bowls, also made his 157th straight dating back to the middle of the 2014 season.

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“He’s a legend in this city, really in the league,” said quarterback Jalen Hurts. “I don’t want to do a disservice to him for the things he’s been able to do and overcome. His journey to where he is now didn’t come easy. It’s been a long, long time coming, and every year since I’ve been here, I’ve been, ‘You gonna come back?’

“But he knows how much I love and appreciate him. He knows how much I’ve learned from him. He’ll forever have a special place in my heart.”

Jason Kelce was a sixth-round pick of the Eagles in 2011. He helped lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship in 2017 and went to another Super Bowl, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs and his brother Travis Kelce last year.

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“Yeah, I love him,” said head coach Nick Sirianni in the aftermath of the loss. “We’re not there at that position yet – ready to talk about that, but he’s special and I love him. He’s one of the most special guys I’ve been around.”

Edge rusher Haason Reddick was asked following the loss if there was one thing he would want next year it would be that the Eagles’ core four players – Kelce, Johnson, Brandon Graham, and Fletcher Cox – all return next season.

“If I could get to see anything, my hope is to see them again,” he said. “Just truly honored and I told them this as well that I’m honored to have played with them, learn from them, and build relationships.

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“Going from watching them on TV as a teen to playing with them, was an extreme honor. So, if I could ask for anything that would be it for me.”

Now that won’t happen, at least in the case of Kelce, and the Eagles will need to move on.

Cam Jurgens was drafted to take over for Kelce when this day came. He played right guard this year. Landon Dickerson can also play center.

No matter who takes over, they will have some very large, Hall of Fame shoes to fill.

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