The Super Bowl winner is known as "perhaps the NFL's best center" according to the league itself
Jason Kelce is reportedly stepping away from playing football.
Sources told ESPN that Kelce announced to his teammates in the locker room after they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 32-9, in a wildcard playoff game that he intends to retire.
While Kelce declined interviews with media in the locker room — “No guys, not today,” he said — Eagles head coach Nick Sirriani didn’t shy away from talking about his affection for the player, who spent all 13 seasons of his career in Philadelphia.
"I love him," Nick Sirianni said, per ESPN. "He's special and I love him. He's one of the most special guys I've been around. He's always got a place here.”
As he stood on the sidelines during Monday night’s game, Kelce was visibly emotional as he watched the Eagles for the last time as a member of the team.
Called “perhaps the NFL’s best center" by the league itself, Kelce had a remarkable 13-year career with achievements including the Eagles' 2017 Super Bowl win, five All-Pro appearances and seven Pro Bowl appearances.
Quarterback Jalen Hurts told reporters after Monday’s game that Kelce is “a legend in the city — really in the league," and will “forever have a special place in my heart,” ESPN reported.
"I don't want to do a disservice to him and the things he's been able to do and overcome. His journey to where he is now didn't come easy. It's been a long, long time coming for him, and every year since I've been here it's been, 'Are you going to come back?' ” Hurts said.
Fellow offensive lineman Lane Johnson reiterated a similar notion to reporters. "I love him. He's one of the best to ever play the game," the right tackle said, per the outlet. "The things he can do on the football field athletically — I don't think we'll see another one like him for a long time."
Over the course of Kelce’s impressive 13 years in the league — which began with a sixth round pick by Andy Reid in 2013 — he’s suffered several serious injuries, too. In 2012, he tore his MCL and suffered a partial tear to his ACL. In 2018, he played through the season with a Grade 2 MCL sprain and injuries to his foot, elbow and shoulder, according to Crossing Broad's report at the time.
In his Amazon Prime documentary, Kelce, filmed during the 2022 season, he admitted, "Every logical thing is telling me I should stop playing football. I’ve got to tear my body apart.”
The film documented his deliberation over whether or not to play this season following the Eagles Super Bowl run last year. “It’s getting harder and harder to play," he said at one point. "There have been little things that are not big things yet but are going to turn into big things the longer I play."
“I am fearful about what the impacts of playing football are going to mean long-term,” he shared in an emotional scene with retired Eagles player Connor Barwin, “I have two girls and ... some people end up getting CTE and some guys live long, healthy lives. I have no idea what’s gonna happen.”
"I always tell people, no matter what happens with football, how it ends, I would like him to retire when he is still able to get down on the floor and play with our kids comfortably," Kylie said.
He ultimately decided to return for at least another year, and signed a one-year contract. He announced the news in March 2023, weeks after the disappointing Super Bowl loss.
"I have put much thought into whether it makes sense to play another season," he wrote in a post on X (formerly Twitter). "After talking it over with my wife and many other friends and family, I have decided to return for another year."
"Thank you to all my supporters and detractors for fueling me, I ain't f—king done yet!" he added.
Ahead of Monday’s game, Kelce was asked by reporters whether he’d given retirement more thought and he didn’t shut down the idea.
“My dad's told me this from the moment I started playing football: You step off the curb one day and that could be the end of your career,” he said. “So you try and approach every game with that mindset. But obviously, the closer and the older you get to that being a realization puts it out in front maybe a little bit more.”
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
Kelce affirmed that his contemplation about retirement wouldn’t be the “main thing” on his mind during the playoff game, though.
“The main thing is, you know, going out there and battling with each of the guys in this locker room,” he continued. “No matter how many more years I play or any of us play, this team right now only has one game left and that's what we're really focused on.”
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.