Jason Kelce’s career is set up for a storybook finish — if he wants it to end that way.
His second Super Bowl. Playing against his brother, Chiefs tight end Travis. His mom, Donna, in the stands and, if an ongoing petition carries any weight, maybe his mom tossing the coin at the beginning of the game.
On stage at Super Bowl opening night, Donna brought two containers of cookies for her sons. Chocolate chip, she said. Her sons’ favorite.
- “We’re always rooting for each other,” said Jason, who is two years older than Travis. “I always want him to do well, but I would sure love to get this one over his head and have at least something over top of Trav.”
Each of the Kelce brothers have won a Super Bowl. Younger brother Travis talked about who won the most when they were kids growing up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
- “Jason definitely got that,” Travis said. “I’ll tell you what, though, what he did do is he gave me a cool perspective on how to beat somebody that’s better than you.
- “I kind of got to learn the mind games at a different level as a younger kid, so he’s helped me get to where I’m at without a doubt. But he got the majority of the wins for sure.”
For a 35-year-old center who has played 139 consecutive regular season games for the Eagles, the finish line is sooner rather than later for Jason. He has played 176 regular season games and 10 more playoff games.
Jason, whose consecutive game streak is second in team history behind Jon Runyan (144), has played all 12 NFL seasons for the Eagles. That’s 12 years in the middle of all the thumping. Twelve years of hitting and being hit … nearly every play.
Jason is noncommittal about returning next season. After the 2021 season, Jason considered retirement before signing a one-year, $14 million deal in March. He said the outcome of Sunday’s Super Bowl will not affect his decision to retire.
- “From everybody I’ve been told about when you know it’s time to retire or not, you just know when you know and it’s going to be when you don’t want to play football anymore,” Jason said.
- “I don’t think that winning this game is going to determine whether I want to play football or not.
- “I remember talking to Stout [run game coordinator/offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] maybe two years ago, I was like, ‘I don’t know when that time’s going to come or how I’m going to know when to stop.’
- “And he’s like, ‘You’ll know.’ He was like, ‘You won’t want to do it anymore.’ I was like, ‘I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.’
- “He’s like, ‘No, it will happen. Trust me, it will happen.’ ”
Jason is coming off his fifth first-team All-Pro season. He has been named to six Pro Bowls. His induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame seems certain.
ANOTHER SUPER BOWL?
His talented Eagles team is set up for future Super Bowl appearances, perhaps sooner rather than later. He still plays at the highest level and he has the motivation of winning in his corner.
But he readily admits he is an old guy playing a young man’s sport.
- “[Former Eagles offensive line coach) Howard Mudd, before he passed, gave me the advice, ‘When in doubt, don’t.’ He said you can use that for anything, not just retirement,” Jason said.
- “I don’t know when that’s going to happen. Obviously, I contemplate it every offseason at this point.
- “I’m just going to appreciate the next week-and-a-half with the guys in this room and all of the coaches and hopefully put together another special game for the season.”
Jason, one of the team leaders, is impressed with how coach Nick Sirianni runs the program and how that leads to this kind of success. As Jason noted, NFL players have the talent. But a team’s success is built on other factors.
- “The atmosphere and culture he builds within this building are a really big reason why the [assistant] coaches have flourished and why the players have flourished,” Jason said.
- “That’s what a head coach’s main role is, whether he’s calling the plays offensively, calling the plays defensively, managing the game — his number one job is to facilitate a team and organization that is focused on improving, that is focused on working, that comes in the building with energy, that’s motivated to get better.”
Jason has a unique angle watching the growth and development of quarterback Jalen Hurts. Jason witnessed a team come together and have enormous success. Early in the season, Jason handed off the leadership of the team to Hurts, saying it was the quarterback’s team now.
- “Once we started playing, I think we all realized that we have the talent to make it happen,” Jason said.
- “It’s really going to come down to how well we execute, how well we prepare, how well we take care of the football.
- “You know, really just all the things we can do to not beat ourselves and that’s probably going to dictate how far we go …
- “Getting to one [Super Bowl] is hard, getting to two is obviously an incredible feat by the organization.”