Nick Sirianni gets chills thinking about Jason Kelce’s toughness.
So after watching Kelce return from a knee injury suffered against the Giants, the Eagles’ head coach sent Kelce a text message on Sunday night:
“You’re the toughest guy I know. And we appreciate the heck out of you coming back in.”
Kelce, 34, has played through a ton of injuries throughout his NFL career. As an undersized center at 6-3, 295 pounds he needs to. But this is Sirianni’s first season coaching Kelce, his first chance to see that toughness up close.
So the 40-year-old head coach was in awe as he watched Kelce leave Sunday’s game only to eventually return to the sideline and then return to the game. Kelce left the game in the first quarter, missed 31 offensive snaps, but was eventually able to return in the third quarter.
“That’s what you want from your leaders, a guy that’s going to do everything he can do to give himself to his teammates,” Sirianni said. “That’s the selflessness of Jason Kelce, the toughness of Jason Kelce. I can’t say enough good things about him. Not only do I think he’s one of the best offensive linemen I’ve ever been around and I’ve been around some good offensive linemen. I also think he’s the toughest guy I’ve ever been around.”
While Kelce has been a multiple Pro Bowler, All-Pro and has a legitimate chance to end up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he’ll also be remembered in Philadelphia for his toughness. At the end of most seasons, Kelce will finally reveal the various ailments he dealt with over the course of a few months. And he’ll do it with a “so what?” attitude.
Sunday’s start at MetLife Stadium was the 117th consecutive regular season start for Kelce. That’s the longest active streak for centers in the NFL and he’s the first center with a streak of 100+ games since Chris Myers had 123 from 2007-14.
Kelce hasn’t missed a start since the 2014 season.
And even though his knee is a little sore this week, the Eagles seem hopeful that he’ll make it 118 straight starts on Sunday as they face the Jets, back in MetLife Stadium.
While Sirianni said he didn’t have much interaction with Kelce as the center lobbied to go back in, he did watch Kelce continually test out his knee by sprinting on the sideline. Typically, when a guy returns to the sideline, tests an injured body part and doesn’t go back in, he’s done for the game.
But Kelce somehow came back in.
“It was just awesome,” Sirianni said. “I got chills thinking about how, like, how much it means to be out there and fight through things that he fights through. They should do a case study to see what makes him this tough. I can’t say enough good things about Jason Kelce. He’s so tough. Our team feeds off that. I think we have a tough team. And why do you have a tough team? You have a tough team because of the leadership of the main guys on your team and it starts with him.”
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