T H A N W O R D S
JASON KELCE’S SPEECH WAS MERELY AN EXTENSION OF THE
REVERED PLAYER AND LEADER IN THE EAGLES’ LOCKER ROOM
by GRAHAM FOLEY
When Jason Kelce stepped away from the podium and walked down the steps of the
Philadelphia Museum of Art on February 8, the phone calls immediately began to pour in.
Dressed head-to-toe in full Mummers garb, the All-Pro and Pro Bowl center inspired
millions of fans watching his fiery, passionate speech as his fist repeatedly slammed into
the podium, and his worn-out voice cracked in the frigid air.
When the day was finished, Kelce went from being a lineman beloved by fans for his
talent and long tenure to a Philadelphia folk hero whose picture quickly became an
internet meme and T-shirt design. It wasn’t long before his publicist and the Eagles’ public
relations team received an avalanche of requests for his appearance. Kelce’s offseason
became a wild ride of speeches, visits, and connections with the Philadelphia community.
“I felt like I was being pushed and pulled in every direction possible,” Kelce says. “After
the speech especially, piled on top of the Super Bowl, I think everybody wanted me to host
an event or do a charity thing or whatnot, so this was the one time I was really picking and
choosing so diligently. But it was a lot of fun.
“Obviously, the season went tremendously well. The speech was something that I think
came off pretty genuine and everyone felt like that, so it had a good reception and the rest
of it was me trying to enjoy it and take it all in.”
There was a lot to take in for Kelce.
In the early part of the offseason, Kelce played the saxophone and marched with the
Avalon String Band whose outfit he borrowed for the parade. In February, he played with
his high school band from Cleveland Heights, Ohio when students came to Philadelphia
to play at Central High School. In July, he earned a one-day contract with the Philadelphia
Orchestra where he performed for a large crowd of Eagles fans at The Mann Center.
His performances were spectacular, especially considering he doesn’t have a lot of time
to practice during the season.
“I have always been involved in music but it’s not something I’ve really gotten too much
into,” Kelce says. “And then because of the Mummers and the Philadelphia Orchestra
night came about, I was able to push that message of being involved in music. That was
something I certainly enjoyed doing.”
Kelce also spoke at various events and charity fundraisers, bringing his parade-swagger
and underdog passion to each one. He even pumped up the crowd at a Flyers playoff
game. Some appearances were planned, and others were spur-of-the-moment decisions.
When vacationing with his then-fiancée Kylie McDevitt in Florida, the couple decided to
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