Kelce gets goosebumps explaining why he's returning to Eagles in 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
For Jason Kelce, returning for an 11th season with the Eagles boiled down to one thing.
He can’t imagine not playing football.
“Every year physically it gets a little bit harder to get through the whole season,” Kelce said in an interview with Angelo Cataldo Thursday on the 94 WIP Morning Show.
“Little nagging injuries come up. So every year at the end of it you’re kind of worn out. Especially at the end of last year. The losing season on top of that is going to wear on you mentally. You’re constantly trying to correct the ship, constantly trying to keep everybody together as a veteran player, and that wears on you, too.
“But the bottom line is I still want to play. I still love coming to work and I still love coming to work into an environment where everybody is trying to be the best they can be and I’m in an environment with the best people at what they do in the world. I don’t know how I’m going to get that (after I retire), and that’s the biggest thing.”
Kelce will take a streak of 105 consecutive games into 2021, longest among all NFL offensive linemen.
But despite his longevity and durability, he’s dealt with numerous serious but not quite debilitating injuries the last few years and at 33, he’s taking his career year by year.
But he said Thursday there’s nothing he’ll be able to find when he retires that will give him what professional football does.
“Yeah, I want to be healthy when I retire, for sure that’s something that’s on my mind,” he said. “But you know what? I’ve been really blessed to be around groups of men who are competing every single day with each other to try and be the best in the world at what they do and that’s a luxury that I think is hard to quantify.
“And then when I talk to all the former players (I ask) what do you miss the most? I miss being around the guys. I miss that energy. I miss that environment. I miss the atmosphere of the locker room. Those personalities are hard to come by when you’re done playing.”
Kelce is a Super Bowl champion, parade MVP, three-time all-pro, four-time Pro Bowler, first-ballot Eagles Hall of Famer, Philadelphia folk hero and possible Hall of Famer.
His place in this franchise's history is secure.
The Eagles did draft Kelce’s eventual successor, Landon Dickerson, in the second round of this year’s draft, and Kelce had some interesting things to say Wednesday about Dickerson – more on that soon.
But listening to Kelce talk for the first time about his decision to return in 2021, he didn’t sound like someone who’s about to hang up his cleats anytime soon.
“At some point I’m going to have to say it’s over,” he said. “But I’m not ready to do that yet. I’m getting goosebumps just talking right now.
“I get excited to get back around these guys. To get back in the weight room. To get back to try to figure out how to be the best team in the NFL. To be the best center in the NFL. All of these things I’m not done with yet.
“I’m excited, man. I’m excited for another year. I’m excited with the new coaches and I’m excited to surprise some people this year with the Philadelphia Eagles.”