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After struggling to decide, the Eagles center and co-captain finally announced his retirement.



This week, Philadelphia Eagles Center Jason Kelce finally made the announcement the sports world has been waiting for. He is retiring and will not return to play another season with the team. The 36-year-old made the announcement in an unforgettable 40-minute speech full of pauses because he was overcome with tears. Kelce co-hosts the New Heights podcast with his younger brother Travis Kelce, tight end for the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs and perhaps best known for his romantic relationship with Taylor Swift. In the latest episode, the brothers discussed Jason’s retirement and how he decided to leave the sport after 13 seasons.

As Eagles fans know, this was not a quick decision. Kelce has been considering retirement for at least the past two seasons, and openly discussed the topic in interviews and on the podcast. In January, the Eagles lost 32-9 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, putting them out of the playoffs. After that game, a tearful Kelce made a speech to his teammates, telling them how much he’d enjoyed being on the team and that they should cherish every moment they spent in the NFL. Many took this speech to mean that Kelce was retiring, but days later he used the podcast to set the record straight: He might retire, or he might not. He still hadn’t made up his mind.

Now that he has, Travis asked him, “Who helped you the most in deciding all this when deciding whether to keep playing or not? What was the biggest influence?”

“Me,” Jason said. “You know, I think that’s how I knew. In previous years, I’d reach out to other guys. Like, ‘Hey, how do you know when you want to stop playing?’ The reality was, it was more firm than it’s ever been this year that I just don’t think physically I can compete at the level I want to anymore.”

Me. Stop and think about that for a moment. We all have to make difficult decisions–and if you’re running your own business, you face more of those than most people. If you’re like me, faced with a big decision, you do just what Kelce did. You thoughtfully weigh your options and do research, asking people you respect how they made that same choice. But in the end, you’re still the one who has to decide. And sometimes, amid all the chatter of other people’s opinions and your own doubts, you can actually hear the voice inside you telling you what it knows is true.

crush me.”
For Jason Kelce, the decision reflects a great deal of self-knowledge. Football is brutally hard on the body, so there’s a recovery period needed after every game. For Kelce, that recovery time has gradually been getting longer. “It hasn’t really manifested on game day yet,” Kelce said. “But I know it’s going to start doing that. And I’d really rather not. I’m hard on myself. And if I go out there and I’m not the player that I want to be, it’ll crush me.”

For Travis, the announcement is bittersweet. The brothers have been playing football together since they were kids tossing a ball around in their backyard. In high school and college they played on the same team, and last year they faced each other in the Eagles-Chiefs Super Bowl that some dubbed the “Kelce Bowl”. Travis, who played quarterback in college, talked about the joy of running up the field right behind his older brother. In the podcast, he confessed that he would have wanted Jason to keep playing, but kept those feelings to himself. “You’ve always been a step ahead of me in this game and it’s always been like I’ve had this flotation device right there,” he said, tearing up. “And to have you out of it, man, it feels empty.”

But then he continued: “And it feels like…it’s complete, you know. It was a success. It was a fun-ass journey to watch.” That last comment really tells you that Jason has made the right decision at the right time. He’s been on a Super Bowl-winning team, he’s played in 193 NFL games. His age may make it harder to reach those heights again. It’s time to take care of his body and to move on to new and different challenges.

There’s a growing audience of readers who receive a daily text from me with a self-care or motivational micro-challenge or tip. Often, they text me back and we wind up in a conversation. (Want to learn more? Here’s some information about the texts and a special invitation to a two-month free trial.) Many are successful entrepreneurs or business leaders who have had to make difficult decisions while building their businesses. They know the best decisions happen when you absorb the best advice, but then listen to that voice inside you that knows what to do.

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