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Jason Kelce’s Character Outshines His Hall Of Fame Accomplishments

Jason Kelce cares about people and the city of Philadelphia in ways one wouldn’t expect from a high-paid celebrity athlete.


The retirement of Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, who recently announced his decision to step away from football after 13 seasons in Philadelphia, brought many tributes about his professional accomplishments. From his seven trips to the Pro Bowl, to six first-team All-Pro honors, to his efforts bringing the Eagles their first Super Bowl championship, Kelce has more accolades than a pro football player could dream of, which will likely earn him induction into the Hall of Fame five years hence.

But Jason Kelce’s on-the-field exploits are only half — and in many ways, the lesser half — of his talent. Eagles fans have long considered the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis (who’s that singer he’s dating again?) the “other” Kelce because Jason has always displayed his Hall of Fame character as an individual and as a man.

Everyman Empathy

Two traits in particular demonstrate Kelce’s personality in ways that can provide an example to football fans and non-fans alike. For one, he can and does relate to all manner of individuals, such that he wears his on-field greatness lightly. That trait explains his willingness to drink with fans at tailgates, as several videos over the years have demonstrated.

But Kelce also cares about others, in ways one wouldn’t expect from a high-paid celebrity athlete. Two incidents in recent months stand out on this front. At his brother Travis’ playoff game in Buffalo in January, Jason, a father of three himself, helped a young girl show a message to Travis’ famous girlfriend, what’s-her-name.

And at his farewell press conference, Kelce got his ankles taped up by Joe O’Pella, a longtime member of the Eagles training staff. O’Pella wanted the chance to tape him up during what would become Kelce’s final game, a January playoff loss in Tampa, but treatment for cancer prevented O’Pella from attending that contest. When Kelce found out, he offered to get taped up for his retirement press conference, just so O’Pella and he could engage in their pregame ritual one final time.

O’Pella explained this situation in a touching retirement tribute on Instagram, where he provided additional examples of Kelce’s character as a caring human and friend:

When I was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo radiation and chemo, he offered his shore house if I needed to get away, and offered to pay for meal services to help my wife and I out, and he called me randomly when I had been home, too sick to come in [because] of chemo, just to check on me and chat about random things. That’s who he is as a person.

In the game of life, those actions — the kinds of unseen gestures people don’t make because they have to do something, but because they want to help others — mean far more than any on-the-field accomplishments.

Prodigious Passion

With someone as unpretentious as Jason Kelce, what you see is what you get. And what Philadelphia Eagles fans got most of all was his passion, for his teammates, for football, and for life.

Kelce’s public speeches often go viral, and for obvious reasons. The Amazon Prime documentary released in September that chronicled his penultimate season in the NFL during the Eagles’ 2022 Super Bowl run, made some of those speeches more widely known to the public.

But for Philadelphia sports fans, little can compare to his famous speech at the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory parade, delivered while wearing a custom-made Mummers-style suit. The remarks are definitely not suitable for children, but they show how much he cared about his teammates, and the city of Philadelphia.

Yes, Kelce can swear in public like a sailor, but his cursing never seems so much profane as emphatic — demonstrating the depth of his emotion. That emotion was on full display during his retirement press conference, as he waxed eloquently about all manner of topics. In listening to him talk about the night he met his wife, Kylie, I wished I had a partner about whom I cared so deeply.

That passion made him the player that he became, and it also explains why he felt the need to retire when he did. Kelce achieved All-Pro honors again this past season and likely could have played at least one more season at a high level physically. But if his passion for football had begun to wane, then it only makes sense that he follow that passion into the next phase of his life.

Champion Individual

Philadelphia sports fans have a reputation for being fickle but tend to get a bad rap. Those “fickle” fans often sense players uninterested in the game, being sloppy, not executing, or under-performing, and respond in kind.

In Jason Kelce, Philadelphia found someone who cared as much about sports as they did. And who didn’t just consistently execute on the field at a Hall of Fame level, but showed a Hall of Fame character that the entire community could emulate.

Congratulations on your retirement, Jason. And well done, good and faithful servant.

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