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Jason Kelce reveals why he fears NFL retirement

As “exciting” as retirement seems, the Philadelphia Eagles center, said the change is also “daunting."
/ Source: TODAY

Jason Kelce says he expects to make a decision on his retirement "in the next couple weeks."

"Still figuring it out,” Kelce said on "The Big Podcast with Shaq" in an episode posted to YouTube Feb. 12.

He said his team, the Philadelphia Eagles, getting knocked out of the 2024 playoffs in the first round was an "awful" season-ender, and that he wants more time to think through as he makes his decision, he said.

"I think if I still want to play, I’m going to play. I think right now we’re not far enough away from the last game. It’s emotional. It’s a long season. We ended the season, quite frankly, awful. So I’m just going to take some time. Rest, Recoop. And then figure it out. I think I’ll have an answer in the next couple weeks," he said.

At the same time, Kelce reflected on what retirement would mean for him later on in the same conversation.

"I'm set up for — there's a lot of opportunities and things that are going to be available to do in retirement," Kelce said. "But I'm also cognizant, after talking to everybody that's played, that none of that is going to be the same as playing."

Kelce said in polling retired players, he has learned what the key difference is for active players compared to retired ones. He said his former teammate Chris Long explained it best to him.

"When you're playing, you're winning the highest highs and you're losing the lowest lows and your emotions — the way you’re riding it are like (a wave), " he recalled of Long's explanation. "And then once you're done playing, you're like this (flatline). It feels weird and it takes a while to get used to that.

"I mean, I've never done it. I haven't done it yet. But, it's coming," he said.

And when it does, the transition will come with the question: "Why am I not having that insane high that I had when I was playing football?"

The center previously talked about his eventual retirement on the Feb. 9 episode of the “Green Light with Chris Long“ podcast, calling the life stage both "exciting" and "daunting."

“It is exciting to think about possibilities — it is exciting to be able to lose weight, feel good and not physically fight for my life every day,” he said.

However, Jason Kelce added that leaving the sport would also be “daunting” because he’ll be doing something he’s never done before.

“I think it is also daunting. It is anxiety and at the end of the day, it is the unknown," he shared.

Jason Kelce also talked about his feelings in regards to starting a new chapter of his life, saying the transition can be scary regardless of how prepared a person is.

“No matter who you are or how well-prepared you are to enter the next stage, everybody goes through a level of depression,” he said. “The end of one of the things you love most in your life is there, and you have to come to grips with that.”

Jason Kelce's comments come after the Eagles experienced a tough loss at the end of their NFL season. At that time, reports started to surface that Jason Kelce told his teammates that he is retiring after 13 seasons in the league.

The Eagles All-Pro center spoke with his younger brother, Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce, on their "New Heights" podcast on Jan. 17, about the Eagles' loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and said decisions about his future are not definitive.

"I don't know what next year is going to look like with the team," he said. "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 didn't announce what I was doing on purpose despite I guess what's been leaked to the media. ... I just don't think you're in a 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. I'm not trying to be dramatic and continue to draw this thing out, I'm really not.

"When it's time to officially announce what's happening in the future, it'll be done at in a way that's definitive and pays respect to a lot of people and individuals that have meant a lot to me."

He added, "In the future there will be something said, I guess."

When he appeared to get emotional, he and Travis Kelce paused as his brother said, "Hell yeah, man."

"There's a lot of emotion in the room, for sure," Jason Kelce said. "I don't know what the future holds for anybody in that building right now."

His comments mark his first acknowledgement of reports by ESPN and the NFL Network, who reported, citing league sources, that Jason Kelce told his teammates that he is stepping away after a career that puts him among the greatest centers in NFL history.

The Eagles lost 32-9 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wildcard round of the NFL playoffs on Jan. 15 to bring a disappointing season to an end. Philadelphia, which played in the Super Bowl one season earlier, started 10-1 this fall and then lost six of its last seven games.

Jason Kelce did not answer questions about his possible retirement immediately following the game.

“Not today,” he told reporters who approached his locker.

Jason Kelce is the rare offensive lineman to achieve fame outside of football. Centers are usually anonymous outside of diehard fans, but Jason Kelce has changed that stereotype thanks to the success of the "New Heights" podcast, his jovial social media presence as a husband to wife Kylie and a dad of three, and moments with his all-American family, including Travis and his mom, Donna Kelce.