Eagles center Jason Kelce spoke to reporters at the end of last week before heading to Arizona and talked about making it to his second Super Bowl, why he thinks Nick Sirianni deserves a ton of credit for the team’s success, and whether the outcome of the game will affect his retirement decision. He also explained why he and Travis Kelce decided to start a podcast, and how it’s brought the brothers closer.
Here’s what Kelce had to say:
On making his 2nd Super Bowl appearance
“Getting to one is hard, getting to two is obviously an incredible feat by the organization. All the guys here that have made that happen.
I think Brent Celek actually talked that year, and I think he knew that the team was really special and he was a guy that had been around for a long time at that point. And I remember him talking to the offense before the first game, about how he had went to the NFC Championship his second year and how he thought he’d just be back there every year, or we’ll get ‘em next time, and took him another eight years after that, or nine years, to get back there.
So, I think it was kind of — there’s a sense of urgency here. We have a really good team. We have a great roster. You’re only going to get so many chances to do something special in this league and he realized it very early on that year that we had a chance to do something great.”
Kelce went on to say that you go into every year thinking you’re going to go to the Super Bowl — it’s hard going into a year and not expecting to be great. He noted that the team made a lot of improvement over the course of last season, and they all felt collectively very positive going into this season.
“Once we started playing, I think we all realized that we have the talent to make it happen. It’s really going to come down to how well we execute, how well we prepare, how well we take care of the football. You know, really just all the things we can do to not beat ourselves and that’s probably going to dictate how far we go.”
For all the coaching changes that Kelce has been apart of, and seeing how most new coaches come in and don’t have to wait long for success, the veteran center credits the Eagles organization as a whole. He points to them keeping enough parts that they think will hold everything together and maintaining a solid foundation to build on.
On Nick Sirianni’s offensive contributions
Kelce said that OC Shane Steichen and run-game coordinator/OL coach Jeff Stoutland deserve all the credit in the world for what the offense is doing, but he also pointed out that the head coach really deserves the ultimate credit.
“His atmosphere and culture that he’s built within this building is a really big reason why the coaches have flourished, why the players have flourished. That’s what a head coach’s main role is, whether he’s calling the plays offensively, calling the plays defensively, managing the game — his number one job is to facilitate a team and organization that is focused on improving, that is focused on working, that comes in the building with energy, that’s motivated to get better. These things far outweigh what play we call on third down. And I think Nick does a phenomenal job with that, and I think he deserves all the credit in the world for that.”
On his retirement plans
Kelce was asked if the outcome of the Super Bowl, win or lose, will have an affect on his retirement plans. The veteran was quick to say, “I don’t think so,” before elaborating on when he’ll know it’s time to call it a career.
“From everybody I’ve been told about when you know it’s time to retire or not, you just know when you know, and it’s going to be when you don’t want to play football anymore, and I don’t think that winning this game is going to determine whether I want to continue to play football or not.”
He recalled talking to Jeff Stoutland two years ago, and saying he didn’t know when the time would come or how he would know when to stop. Stoutland assured him that he’ll know it’s time when he doesn’t want to play anymore. Kelce quipped that he doesn’t think that’ll ever happen, but Stout reassured him that it will.
Kelce also recalled longtime NFL coach Howard Mudd telling him before he passed, “When in doubt, don’t,” — something Mudd said could be applied toward anything, not just retirement.
“I don’t know when that’s going to happen. Obviously, I contemplate every offseason at this point, but it’s going to appreciate the next week and a half now, with the guys in this room and all the coaches, and hopefully put together another special game for the season.”
On his New Heights Show podcast
Kelce admitted that one of his big reservations in starting a podcast while still playing the game, was if the season went poorly, it would be a really bad look that he was spending time on this side project — luckily that wasn’t the case.
He noted that other worries included it being a distraction, or it being viewed as taking something away from the team or their preparation. But, Kelce said that there were some other player podcasts, even in the NBA, that had done well and that quieted some of their reservations.
There were also a lot of positives involved, like he and Travis being able to sit down and talk every week, have some fun, and in some ways Jason feels like it’s made the two brothers even closer. Jason admitted that usually over the course of a season, they get so caught up in the grind and staying focused, that they could go months even without talking. So, having to sit down and talk every week has been great — and it’s something they’ve talked about doing for awhile.
Jason spoke later on about the evolution of his relationship with Travis, saying that as the older brother he was probably a little more mature, but as they got older it became more of a peer relationship. Jason is no longer trying to tell Travis what to do, or trying to show him the ropes and offer guidance as an older brother, now it’s more as a friend. He also now gets advice from Travis, which he admitted didn’t happen often growing up.