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5 Powerful lessons Jason Kelce taught the world

Jason Kelce #62 of the Philadelphia Eagles reacts after announcing his retirement from the NFL


Theresa Civantos Barber - published on 03/07/24

When it comes to work ethic and family devotion, Kelce is doing it right. Hopefully his example can inspire the rest of us!

Beloved football player Jason Kelce announced his retirement on March 4 in an emotional press conference, sharing from his heart a few important lessons. Widely considered one of the greatest centers of all time, Kelce played his entire 13-year career for the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Kelce has long been a Philly icon, especially after his unforgettable speech in a mummer costume after the team’s 2018 Super Bowl win, but he became a household name when he and his brother, Travis, played against each other in the 2023 Super Bowl. It was the first time in history that brothers competed against each other in the biggest championship game of them all. 

The “Kelce Bowl” brought the incredibly talented brothers to a wider audience, and they became internationally recognized when Jason’s younger brother, Travis, began dating pop star Taylor Swift in September 2023 (cuing endless social media jokes that Taylor “put Travis on the map,” when he was already renowned among football fans as one of the all-time greatest players). The brothers’ New Heights podcast and Jason’s Kelce documentary on Prime soared in popularity, introducing the world to this down-to-earth and fun-loving family.

Fame has not changed Jason Kelce, who is affably rough around the edges with a heart of pure gold. He often becomes emotional when talking about his family — his parents, brother, wife, and three young daughters — revealing a deep love and commitment to his people. 

His retirement speech revealed so many of the things America loves about Jason, and he shared some really important lessons he’s learned along the way, lessons for us all to take to heart.

When it comes to work ethic and family devotion, Jason is doing it right. Hopefully his example and openly sharing how important these things are to him can inspire us all to follow in his footsteps, whether or not we’re not destined for a career in professional sports!

“One of the best things a person can be is a father”

Perhaps the most moving moment of the speech was Kelce’s declaration of how much he loves being a father, inspired by the example of his own wonderful dad. He said:

I am a product of my upbringing: I think one of the best things a person can be in this world is a father. A father who is present, loving, devoted, just may be the greatest gift a child could ask for in our society, and I have a d— good one. My father believed in me more than anyone. He believed in me and my brother, and whenever my own insecurities would arise or self-doubt would come in, he would stifle them with the warm embrace of unwavering love and belief.

“She has brought the best out of me”

Kelce spoke candidly about how his love for his wife, Kylie, made him even better at his career. We are big fans of Kylie Kelce, and it was deeply moving to hear his tribute to her as a driving force behind his success. His speech was a powerful reminder that a happy marriage inspires both spouses to achieve new levels of greatness. He said:

I think it’s no coincidence I have enjoyed my best years of my career with Kylie by my side. Every accolade I have ever received has come with her in my life. She has brought the best out of me through love, devotion, support, honesty, intelligence and, of course, a swift kick in the a– from time to time. She has also given me three beautiful girls and a life that increasingly brings me more fulfillment off the field than it does on.

“The camaraderie of my teammates”

A heartrending moment in the press conference came when Kelce began to describe how much he loves the camaraderie of a football team but broke down on reaching the word “camaraderie.” His teammates mean so much to him and their friendly support was one of the big factors driving him to succeed. Humans need community and to be part of a team, in any walk of life. As he said later in the speech:

No man is an island: We must draw our strengths from others. I’d like to thank my teammates, my other brothers. Oh, how I’ve drawn my strengths from you all! I was fortunate to play with great players, some of the best this league has to offer, but it was really off the field, just sitting in the cafeteria with my teammates, breaking bread and talking about life, that were some of the most meaningful times I spent in my career.

“The easy way is the wrong way”

Kelce is known for his extraordinary work ethic and personal discipline, without which he could not have risen to the top of a grueling sport. One short but unforgettable line from his speech captured the role old-fashioned hard work played in his success (he quotes Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland here).

Jeff Stoutland often shares a quote his father would tell him: “More often than not, the easy way is the wrong way.” 

In a world that encourages us to “take the easy way out” of any situation, what would it look like if we rose to meet challenges with this kind of relentless attitude?

Vulnerability is strength

It’s nearly impossible to watch the speech without tearing up: Kelce openly wept for much of the press conference in a raw and vulnerable farewell to the sport he loves so much.

Perhaps this vulnerability was the greatest lesson of all. Many commenters on the YouTube video of his speech found it refreshing to see such a strong, tough man wear his heart on his sleeve without a second thought.

Kelce ended his speech simply by standing up and saying, “That’s all I’ve got,” leading one commenter to say, “‘That’s all I’ve got’ like Jason Kelce didn’t just bring us to our knees with tears in our eyes by showing how strong it is to show vulnerability.”

Another wrote, “Jason not even once apologized for crying. That’s because you never have to be sorry for expressing emotion. A lot of us men can learn so much from this guy. An absolute legend,” while another said, “I watched this with both of my sons. I cried and they cried. This is the epitome of what a man could be and should be.” Yet another wrote, “He is what football and family are truly about: loyalty, love, honor, commitment, brotherhood, compassion, teamwork, and selflessness.”

These are just a few of the heartfelt comments showing how many lives Kelce touched in his 13 years in the NFL. 

Thank you, Jason, for showing the world what it looks like to play with all you’ve got on the field, and love your people with all you’ve got off the field. The world could use more of us imitating your work ethic and giant heart. We will miss you so much!

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