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Dear Eagles Fans, Let Jason Kelce Retire

It’s time to say good-bye to Fat Batman. Not because he’s way past his football prime, but because we Eagles fans love him and his family too much to jeopardize his — and our — future together

Dear Eagles Fans, Let Jason Kelce Retire

It’s time to say good-bye to Fat Batman. Not because he’s way past his football prime, but because we Eagles fans love him and his family too much to jeopardize his — and our — future together

For Eagles fans everywhere, the moment we have long feared is here. It’s time to bid adieu to our beloved center, Jason Kelce. Not because he no longer has a place on the field, but because he now occupies an even bigger place in our hearts.

Hear me out.

For over a decade, Kelce has gifted us with his amazing self in ways that feel like true Philly representation, despite being from Cleveland Heights, OH. Just a few moments to recap:

    • His joyful, obscenity-laced Super Bowl parade speech — in Mummers outfit
    • All his outfits, including showing up to his very own documentary premiere in flip-flops (and we thought pajamas in public were the height of local fashion)
    • Debauched public partying, including downdashore, at Phils games, and bare-chested at his little brother’s football game
    • Married to local gal Kylie, who will never — even at her bro-in-law’s Super Bowl game — support any other NFL team except the Eagles
Psyops Jason (left) and Kylie Kelce at the Super Bowl Parade in 2018.
Jason (left) and Kylie Kelce at the Super Bowl Parade in 2018.

Fellow Birds legend Fletcher Cox even went so far as to suggest his teammate could actually win a mayoral election in Philadelphia. (I’m not so certain my dream beer pong partner is also my first choice for mayor, though I’d be willing to hear any ideas on how to fix our trash problem if he’s got them.)

Jason Kelce isn’t just a part of Philadelphia. Jason Kelce is Philadelphia.

He’s the great unifier, a leader we can all get behind. Is the conversation getting dangerously political at Thanksgiving? Throw a “Did you see Kelce in last week’s game?” out there, and watch as the dinner table finds common ground. We all love him. And his family.

“I would like him to retire when he will still be able to get down on the floor and play with our kids comfortably.” — Kylie Kelce

When we hear these dreaded retirement murmurs, too often the questions that flood our mind first are the selfish ones. How much would his absence hinder the Birds next year? Will Cam Jurgens be able to rise to the occasion and fill a massive (which is to say, Kelce-sized) hole? And, dear god, what about the tush push? Will we ever be able to execute it with such perfection again?

What we’re missing are the questions not about what happens to us if he leaves, but instead what happens to him if he stays.

“F**k my life”

Do you know what Jason Kelce yells every time he executes the tush push? “Fuck my life.”

It’s no surprise why. When the tush push is done right, Kelce feels the crushing weight of thousands of pounds at the bottom of a pile of muscles, pads, cleats and helmets. In general, when you’ve reached the point in a job where you’re shouting, “Fuck my life,” it’s time to find a new job.

What Kelce’s body has been through for over a decade is more than what most of us can comprehend.

“I’ve had at least seven surgeries,” he says in last year’s Amazon Prime documentary Kelce. “I’ve torn my MCL, ACL, my knee, left ankle, right hand, two elbows. I’ve broken my right foot, toes and fingers and everything has at least a small amount of arthritis.”

Add to that the general wear and tear that comes with constant direct hits to the shoulders and, worst of all, his head.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a degenerative brain disorder caused by repetitive hits to the skull. Its symptoms range from mild memory loss and mood changes to suicidality and dementia. While symptoms of CTE can be treated with palliative care, it is ultimately irreversible.

In a 2023 study, The Boston University CTE Center posthumously tested 376 former NFL players for the disease. A tragic 345 — nearly 92 percent — of those players showed signs of CTE. According to the National Institute of Health, chances of developing CTE increase 15 percent with every additional year of playing football.

Perhaps the most disheartening piece of data for us Kelce fans: Linesmen are more likely to develop CTE than any other football players.

Reading this data should make a wave of guilt wash over those of us who call for Kelce to keep going. How can we ask him to potentially add to his laundry lists of ailments and put himself at further risk of developing chronic illnesses for one more year of football?

“My advice to you is, if you are going to retire, accept it; enjoy your family, brother … Enjoy your beautiful wife, enjoy your beautiful kids — and never dwell on what we had.” — Shaq

If he stays, he faces another season of grueling practices and every other weekend away from his home and family. Another season of taking hit after hit and pushing through every ounce of pain with an unwavering determination to bring his city a win. Another season putting the only body and brain he has at risk for lifelong damage, for our entertainment.

“No matter what happens with football, how it ends, I would like him to retire when he will still be able to get down on the floor and play with our kids comfortably,” says Kylie Kelce in Kelce.

Yes, he’s our six-time Pro-Baller, but he’s also Wyatt, Elliotte and Bennett’s dad and Kylie’s husband. He’s Travis’ brother and Donna and Ed’s son. These are the people whom Kelce should think about, not us.

As Shaquille O’Neal recently told Kelce on The Big Podcast with Shaq: “My advice to you is, if you are going to retire, accept it; enjoy your family, brother. I made a lot of dumbass mistakes to where I lost my family and I didn’t have anybody. That’s not the case for you. So enjoy your beautiful wife; enjoy your beautiful kids — and never dwell on what we had.”

Gone but also still very here

I started getting hooked on football when I was a junior in high school, which happened to be Kelce’s first season. I feel like I’ve grown up alongside him. When I think about the Eagles, his face is the first that comes to mind. To say goodbye to Kelce feels like uncharted territory — and a daunting reminder that time moves too quickly with happy memories in tow.

Then I remember: All these feelings are so familiar. They are the exact same ones I had last year, when Kelce was considering leaving the game. And if Jason Kelce returns for another season, I’ll feel them again next year. Eventually, the cycle needs to end.

Olivia Kram, avid Kelce fan. Photo by Dylan Stephan.

Also, let’s be honest: The Kelce fam is destined to remain Philly royalty for eternity. Jason and Travis Kelce’s crazy popular New Heights podcast ain’t going away anytime soon. And even if he never reports on another Civic Season in The Philadelphia Citizen, even if he never rejoins The Philly Specials to cut another Christmas album (which, so far, have raised $4.25 million for education-minded local nonprofits, including his (Be)Philly Foundation, which he also supports with his own line of Underdog Apparel, he’ll still be Philadelphia’s all-time favorite runner-up People’s Sexiest Man Alive. More importantly, thanks to his family ties and Philly devotion, he’ll likely always be … here.

So, as hard as it is to say, say it I — and we — must:

Thank you, number 62. Job well done, Fat Batman. We’ll never forget you, our free-spirited, raucous, rabble-rousing, underdog Prince of South Philly.

Everyone likes you; we do care.

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (left) and center Jason Kelce in Underdog Apparel at the NovaCare Complex.

MORE ON SPORTS FROM THE CITIZEN

A scene from Kelce.

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