It’s not that outlandish. It’s not that crazy.
Jason Kelce is making a hell of a case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Kelce’s grew up in Cleveland Heights, about an hour north of Canton. One home in Northeastern Ohio to another.
It takes a little getting used to the notion of Kelce as a Hall of Famer. He’s not like Reggie White, who simply recorded more sacks than anybody in history before he retired. He’s not like Brian Dawkins, who made highlight reel after highlight reel with his thunderous hits and monumental plays.
Kelce operates in anonymity, like most centers do, but watch him. Focus on him. Train your eyes away from the quarterback, the backs and the receivers and watch No. 62 for a series or two.
You’ll see a guy who makes his living blending speed, power, athleticism and intelligence so routinely and so consistently it’s easy to forget he weighs close to 300 pounds.
Whether he’s racing 20 yards down the field to clear space for Boston Scott on a screen or combo blocking a pass rusher with Brandon Brooks or knocking a linebacker out of the way to make a hole for Miles Sanders, Kelce does his job play after play, game after game, year after year.
And all of a sudden you realize he’s been doing it better than any other center for a decade.
On Friday, Kelce learned he had made First Team All-Pro for the third year in a row. Let’s put that in context:
• He’s only the second center to make All-Pro three straight times in the last 30 years, the first since Dermontti Dawson in the 1990s. The other centers selected All-Pro three straight years since 1930? Bulldog Turner in the 1940s, Jim Langer in the 1970s, Mike Webster in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dwight Stephenson in the 1980s and Dawson. Every one is a Hall of Famer.
• Kelce is the first offensive lineman drafted in the sixth round or later named All-Pro three times since Rayfield Wright of the Cowboys in the early 1970s. Wright is a Hall of Famer.
• Kelce is the only center named All-Pro at least three times in the last 20 years.
• Kelce is only the third offensive lineman in history named All-Pro three times in his 30s. The others — Jim Ringo and Gene Hickerson — are Hall of Famers.
• Kelce is only the fourth player in franchise to win a championship and be a three-time All-Pro. The others? Chuck Bednarik, Pete Pihos and Steve Van Buren. All Hall of Famers.
• Kelce is one of only seven centers in history to earn All-Pro honors three times and win a championship … the only one in the last 35 years.
Like a lot of late-round picks, especially ones who play on the offensive line, it took a while for the NFL to notice Kelce. He didn’t make his first Pro Bowl unit his fourth season and didn’t make his first All-Pro team unit his seventh.
He was already one of the best in the league. But few knew it yet.
Now everybody knows.
The best thing about Kelce is that he literally doesn’t care about any of this stuff.
I asked him about the Hall of Fame on Friday and he shook his head and laughed as he wiped some strawberry banana smoothie off his beard. He’s got a playoff game Sunday to prepare for, there’s no time to think about nonsense like individual honors.
He told me once one of the reasons he likes playing on the offensive line is because there are no individual stats. He loves the fact that you’re judged by the way you play as a group.
“I reflect more on the team,” he said Friday. “That’s why this game is the greatest game there is, in my opinion. It’s the teamwork required, especially up front on the offensive line. That’s the reason this game is special.”
And really, when we’re telling the story of Jason Kelce, it’s less about honors and awards and more about what happened on Feb. 4, 2018, when the Eagles toppled the greatest coach and the greatest quarterback in history.
Nobody personified that team more than Kelce, and his performance a few days later on the art museum steps meant as much to Eagles fans as anything he’s done on the field.
He grew up playing soccer. Arrived at college as a defensive lineman. Was the 191st player taken in the draft.
Now he’s the best in the world, and one day he’ll stand on the stage at McKinley High School in Canton and deliver the greatest speech in Hall of Fame history.
And then he’ll probably crack open a Miller light and go bowling.
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