Jason Kelce sat back and matter-of-factly listed the injuries that struck him last year.
“Last year I played through a Grade 2 MCL (knee) sprain and a broken foot and a torn elbow I had a brace on,” he said. “The entire left side of my body.”
Kelce is 31 now and 110 games into his NFL career. No wonder he took stock when the season ended and pondered whether he wanted to put his body through the rigors of another NFL season.
End of the season, you kind of wait for your body to get healthy and step back (before deciding), especially for older guys because the stress on your body is a little more. It was very, very clear that I wanted to keep playing at the point I decided to (decide my future). I don’t know what it’s going to be like when I make the decision not to be playing, but I got some really good advice from a friend of mine (who said), ‘When in doubt, don’t.’ So I stuck to that.
Kelce, who’s made either the Pro Bowl or all-pro four of the last five years, will be back this fall for his ninth NFL season.
On Monday afternoon, the legendary star of the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade spoke about what went into that decision.
“All the reasons to keep playing are still there,” he said. “You like playing the game, you like being around the guys, you love competing, battling together with people you care about. All that stuff is still very strong in my mind.
“At this point, there’s still too many positives and not enough negatives to really seriously step away from the game.”
Kelce is the first Eagle to earn all-pro honors in back-to-back seasons since Brain Dawkins in 2001 and 2002 and the first offensive player since Keith Jackson in 1989 and 1990.
He’s an all-time great Eagle, and he said at this point in his career, he’ll revisit whether or not to continue playing every offseason.
Some guys want to play till the wheels fall off, some guys want to think about life after football. The bottom line is you want to do what you’re comfortable with and what you’re happy with and for me, it’s a simple cost-benefit analysis:
How much joy do I derive from this game? What’s going to happen if I continue to play? Where’s my body at, where’s any mind at?
There’s so many different factors that go into it, but the biggest thing is I know I love doing this and I know it makes me happy. I know that I enjoy being a part of this group and these guys and this team and that made the decision very easy.
You know that time is approaching. Ultimately I’m still very much into playing.
Kelce missed most of the 2012 season with a torn MCL and ACL and missed four games in 2014 with a sports hernia.
Other than that, he’s manned center for the Eagles since the days of Michael Vick, Nnamdi Asomugha, Ronnie Brown, Moise Fokou and Colt Anderson.
It’s hard to imagine an Eagles season without him. And for at least another year, we don’t have to.
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