Jason Kelce isn’t afraid to show his emotional side, on and off the field.
During the Wednesday, January 17, episode of his and Travis Kelce‘s “New Heights” podcast, Jason, 36, opened up about playing in what was likely his final game with the Philadelphia Eagles after 13 years. Jason’s team faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a wild card game on Monday, January 15, ultimately losing 32-9.
“It’s frustrating. Really, really frustrating,” Jason said. “I love everybody in that building, all the teammates, all those coaches, so much. You put a lot of hard work in, you really do, and when it doesn’t pan out … it’s a heck of a collapse. Started out 10-1 and finished losing six of our last seven games. … Rough way to finish her out this year.”
Travis, 34, reminded his brother that there are “a lot of guys on that team that everybody loves,” saying, “It was just tough to watch you guys go down like that.”
Jason gave “credit to the Bucs” for playing a great game, but he wasn’t making any excuses for his own team. “Expectations were a lot more than what ended up happening. Bottom line is nobody was good enough this year, down the stretch,” he said. “I wasn’t. Players weren’t. Coaches weren’t. It’s a collective. Whenever there’s that big of a letdown it’s more than just any one person or any one thing so … it’s frustrating to say the least.”
Travis reflected on witnessing the “emotional ending” to the Eagles’ season. “I think everybody in the football world felt this one,” he added. “Clearly a lot of emotion at the end of this game for you guys, but I can attest for it because I was feeling it. I know Kylie, mom, dad, everybody that was at the game was feeling it. And I know all the friends and family that I got texts from … they were all feeling it, man.”
As the clock ran out on Monday night, Jason was seen getting emotional on the sideline while speaking to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. He later walked over to the stands to greet his wife, Kylie Kelce, and dad Ed Kelce.
Jason’s mom, Donna Kelce, was also in Florida for the game. In footage shared via social media, Jason was spotted hugging Donna, Kylie and Ed as he exited the stadium.
“Didn’t want to get emotional, but what can you do. … I don’t know what next year is gonna look like with the team, coaches, players,” Jason said on Wednesday when asked for his “final thoughts” on the game. “Obviously, like [Eagles offensive tackle] Lane [Johnson] said, there’s gonna be some changes, for sure. But I just want to make sure everybody knows how much I love and respect and appreciate the effort and energy they put into the year. I know the outcome, Philadelphia, was not acceptable. But I love each and every person in that room and I’ll always believe in them. I’ll always go to battle with each and every one of them.”
Travis called his brother “a great leader” before Jason addressed his NFL future. (ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday, January 16, that Jason told his teammates in a postgame conversation that he plans to retire.)
“I didn’t announce what I was doing on purpose … but people can kind of feel body language and stuff,” Jason noted on the podcast. “I just don’t think you’re in the position after a game like that to really make that decision, I just don’t. There’s too much emotion in the moment, there’s too much going down in the moment to really fully grasp that decision.”
Jason insisted that he’s not “trying to be dramatic” or “draw this thing out” when it comes to announcing his retirement. “It’s just something that I think when it’s time to officially announce what’s happening in the future, it’ll be done in a way that’s definitive and pays respect to a lot of people and individuals that have meant a lot to me and what has led to the career that I’ve had,” he explained. “I don’t think that it would be respectful or even accurate to be able to do that right after a game like that. … In the future, there’ll be something said, I guess.”
Jason confirmed that he “did address the team,” giving a glimpse of how the conversation went down. “‘I got belief in every single one of you guys, cherish the moments you have in this league.’ … A lot of guys [were] like, ‘If that was your last game, I feel sorry for you.’ Don’t feel sorry for me, motherf—kers,” he said before getting choked up.
Travis encouraged Jason to let it out as he gathered his thoughts. “Either way, I think I truly appreciated everybody in that room and [would] go to war with them any day of the week … I think there was a lot of emotion in the room, for sure,” he said. “I don’t know what the future holds for anybody in that room right now.”
Jason said that the Eagles would be starting their exit interview process now that their season is over. “We’ll all be at the edge of our f—kin’ seat waiting on what decision you end up making, big guy,” Travis quipped. “I promise you that.”
The Eagles center was drafted in 2011 and helped the team win their first-ever Super Bowl in 2018. Jason reached the NFL championship again in 2023, but his team was defeated by Travis and the Kansas City Chiefs. He considered retiring after the Super Bowl loss, a decision that was explored in the Prime Video documentary Kelce, but Jason returned to the field last year. In Week 6 of the 2023-24 season, Jason broke the Eagles record for the most consecutive starts with his 145th game.