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Kelce announces his return in a way only he could


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Kelce announces his return in a way only he could


Eagles fans everywhere can breathe a huge sigh of relief.

Jason Kelce is coming back.

Kelce said on Thursday evening he plans to return for a 12th season with the Eagles. The four-time all-pro center turned 34 in November and has been taking his career year-by-year lately, pondering retirement when the offseason arrives.

He’s got two young kids and numerous outside interests and has dealt with a wide variety of nagging injuries in recent years.

But retirement can wait.

Kelce announced his return in a way only he could. 


When he plays in 2022, Kelce will become the 11th player in franchise history to spend at least 12 seasons with the Eagles. Of the 10 others, only six spent their entire career with the Eagles – Bobby Walston, Jerry Sisemore, Vic Sears, Bucko Kilroy, Chuck Bednarik and – so far – Brandon Graham.

Kelce, who turns 35 in November, is already the 2nd-oldest starting interior lineman in the NFL. Alex Mack, who made his seventh Pro Bowl this past season with the 49ers, turns 37 in November.

Kelce is already among the most decorated centers in NFL history.

He’s one of only 11 centers to earn all-pro honors at least four times, and the 10 others are already in the Hall of Fame. Of 50 offensive linemen who are eligible for the Hall who have been named all-pro 1st team at least four times, 44 have been enshrined. The six others played in the 1950s or earlier.

Kelce goes into 2022 with a streak of 122 consecutive starts, the longest current streak of any interior lineman by 40 games and the 4th-longest streak of starts in Eagles history behind Jon Runyan (144), Herm Edwards (135) and Jerry Sisemore (127).

The Eagles drafted Kelce in the 6th round in 2011, and after a training camp battle with incumbent Jamaal Jackson he won the starting center position as a rookie playing on an offensive line with Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Todd Herremans and Danny Watkins.

He missed most of the 2012 season with a torn knee ligament and missed four games in 2014 with a sports hernia, but other than that he’s manned the center of the Eagles’ offensive line at an elite level for over a decade under four head coaches and two legendary offensive line coaches in Howard Mudd and Jeff Stoutland.

Kelce didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until his fourth season, but since 2014 he’s been either a Pro Bowler or an all-pro in seven of eight seasons. In 2019 and 2021 he was both.

Kelce already ranks 9th in Eagles history with 159 games played and would pass Jon Dorenbos, Tra Thomas, Chuck Bednarik and Brent Celek if he plays all 17 games in 2022. Depending on how many games Graham plays – he’s currently at 161 – that would move Kelce into either 4th or 5th, behind David Akers (188), Brian Dawkins (183) and Harold Carmichael (180) along with perhaps Graham. Fletcher Cox isn’t far behind at 156 going into 2022.

At 295 pounds, Kelce is the NFL's lightest starting center, and he's made a living using his speed and athleticism with spectacular down-field blocks that centers generally don't make. His intelligence and understanding of the nuances of the game are off the charts.

But Kelce’s impact on the city and the team have gone far beyond his play on the field.

His performance at the Super Bowl parade elevated him into legendary status and made him a folk hero in Philadelphia, and he’s worked tirelessly for several charities, including Habitat for Humanity, the Ronald McDonald House, the Eagles Autism Foundation and former teammate Connor Barwin’s Make the World Better Foundation.

Kelce is indisputably one of the greatest and most popular figures in Philadelphia sports history, and we’re all lucky to get another year of him. At least one more year.

Kelce’s return answers one question facing the Eagles, and that’s who plays center. The Eagles are set with Jordan Mailata at left tackle, Kelce at center and Lane Johnson at right tackle. It’s hard to imagine the Eagles moving Landon Dickerson out of left guard, which means Isaac Seumalo likely moves to right guard, with Jack Driscoll and Nate Herbig also in the mix.

Back in October, Kelce addressed his unrivaled and unquestioned popularity in the city that he’s called home for 11 years.

"A lot of people say it’s a hard place to play,” Kelce said. "I think it’s pretty f---ing easy, to be honest with you.

"This city really appreciates accountability, appreciates people being very honest, real, emotionally invested, caring. You want to be loved in this city as a baseball player? Run to first base. They’re going to f---ing love you. That’s what it comes down to. If you come up here and make a bunch of excuses and try to lie to them and act like they don’t know what they’re talking about – which sometimes they don’t – but when you act that way or when you aren’t accountable if you’re making mistakes or you’re not getting better or anything like that, they’re going to crush you.

"Everybody’s going to get crushed at some point. Everybody’s going to go through a downturn or be struggling. But if you stick to it and you fight through it and you get better and everything like that, they’ll respect the hell out of you. Even if you’re struggling, if you’re fighting and you’re really trying? They’re still going to respect you.”


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Happy to keep wearing my favorite active Eagles' jersey on game day for at least one more year.

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