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Jason Kelce Says He's 'Very Confident' in His Decision to Retire: 'I Knew'

The 13-year NFL veteran announced his decision to hang up his cleats in a tearful speech on Monday

<p>Tim Nwachukwu/Getty</p> Jason Kelce photographed in Philadelphia on March 4, 2024

Jason Kelce is certain about his retirement.

On Wednesday, the former Philadelphia Eagles center who officially announced his decision to retire from the NFL in a 40-minute-long speech on Monday, offered more insight into the emotional experience on the latest episode of his and his brother Travis Kelce’s New Heights podcast.

Admitting it was "hard to come to grips with the finality" of his decision, Jason, 36, said of his tearful speech, "I was hoping I’d said it enough times that I wouldn’t cry as much I did. I think it’s good to show emotion through it. I mean I was sobbing before I even started!" he laughed.

Travis, 34, then asked his brother, "Who helped you the most in deciding all this? What was the biggest influence helping you?” to which Jason responded, "Me. And I think that’s how I knew. In previous years I would 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 and really compete the way I want to," he continued, adding, "You know my elbow and my knees..."

<p>AP Photo/Matt Rourke</p> Jason Kelce during his retirement speech in Philadelphia on March 4, 2024

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Jason Kelce during his retirement speech in Philadelphia on March 4, 2024

Related: Jason Kelce Tearfully Remembers Moment He Met Wife Kylie in NFL Retirement Speech: 'An Aura Around Her'

"It's just gotten to the point where the deterioration and recovery from that deterioration hasn't really manifested on game day yet but I know it’s going to start doing that and I’d really rather not," the professional athlete explained. "I’m hard on myself, and if I go out there and I'm not the player I want to be it will crush me. So I’m very confident in the decision I’ve made. I know it’s time. I’ve had a really good run. But that’s the biggest reason why.”

In his Prime documentary that debuted last year, the toll that the game was taking on his health — and the effect it was having on his young family — was a running theme. The Eagles mainstay and his wife Kylie Kelce share three daughters: Wyatt, 4, Elliotte. 3, and Bennett, 1.

Jason also shared on the podcast that his decision had been "a long time coming" and revealed he had been mulling over whether to retire "for the last few seasons."

"It was nerve-wracking getting to that day," he continued of the day he announced his decision publicly. "But a lot of the things that I said and I shared are things I wanted to share for a long time and you wait for the moment where it feels right to do it. A lot of those things were notes I’ve compiled throughout my career. I like to take notes on my phone so it’s in one place. It felt good to finally get it out there in some ways, and in other ways, it’s still hard and it hurts.”

Related: Travis Kelce Wipes Away Tears as His Brother Jason Announces Retirement from NFL

After a “disappointing” end to the Eagles’ season, which concluded when they lost a wild-card playoff game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 32-9, on Jan. 15, Jason's decision was seemingly etched on his face after the game.

During the final play, Jason embraced his longtime offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. Then, the father-of-three choked back tears and searched for his family, including Kylie and dad Ed Kelce in the stands.

Despite separate reports which stated Jason had announced his intention to retire to teammates after the game, the former Eagles star later clarified that he had not decided at the time.

"I think when it's time to officially announce what's happening in the future, it will be done in a way that will be definitive," he said on an episode of the New Heights podcast two days later. "With respect to individuals who have meant a lot for me and what has led to the career I've had."

<p>Perry Knotts/Getty</p> Jason Kelce photographed in Tampa, Florida on Jan. 15, 2024

Perry Knotts/Getty

Jason Kelce photographed in Tampa, Florida on Jan. 15, 2024

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During his announcement on Monday, Jason paused for many moments and tried to hold back tears. His family members, including Travis, Kylie, dad Ed and mom Donna Kelce, were seen getting emotional as well.

To cap 13 seasons in the league, seven Pro Bowl selections, six first-team All-Pro selections and one Super Bowl title, Jason used his speech to reminisce about his love of the game, which began when he was a boy in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, and shared memories from his childhood, plus his college and NFL career.

"Stepping on the field was the most alive and free I had ever felt," Jason said. "It was a visceral feeling with football, unlike any other sport. The hairs on my arms would stand up, I could hit somebody, run around like a crazed lunatic and then get told, 'Good job.' "

He added, "I loved football, whether it was in my backyard with my brother, on the playground with my friends or suiting up on Friday nights at Cleveland Heights High School. I loved everything about it."

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