By Jack Ryan
So, Jason Kelce, superstar of the Eagles Super Bowl victory parade on Feb. 8, how have you handled the adulation that you so richly deserved?
“I felt like I was being pushed and pulled in every direction possible,” Kelce told the Eagles web site. “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.”
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.
“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 stop by Phillies Spring Training. Suddenly, Kelce was giving a motivational speech to a professional baseball clubhouse.
“I reached out to Gabe (Kapler, Phillies manager) and he was trying to use the Super Bowl as motivation and said, ‘I’d appreciate it if you came to talk to us,’” Kelce says. “So, we kind of set that up on the spot. That was pretty fun.”
And the best moment of the offseason for Kelce was when he and McDevitt were married in April. Just about every teammate came out to Center City to celebrate with Kelce and his family.
“I feel like I took care of a lot of things in the offseason,” Kelce says. “I’ve been with my wife for a while now and the fact that we were finally able to tie the knot and have so many loved ones come in and everything so that was a really special day for us.
“It was awesome just to, every single time you go out, feel the appreciation from the fans, and the way the city felt from the game and the speech and everything,” Kelce adds. “It was fun to hear everybody’s stories and it was just a lot of good stuff.”
And for his teammates, especially fellow offensive linemen who know him best, this was no surprise.
“I’ve seen it multiple times,” says All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson. “It’s just the guy he is. He plays football with passion, lives life with passion. He’s just a passionate guy and that’s why he’s such a good football player. He puts so much into it.
“I guess it’s safe to say that Kelce is living his best life.”
“He gives me a sense of calmness because he’s so smart on the field for us, knowing assignments, and putting everybody in the right positions,” Johnson says. “Just him doing his job so effectively makes it easier for me.”
“My rookie year (of 2013), he was snubbed out of a Pro Bowl. It was probably the best year I’ve ever seen him play and he matched that last year too,” Johnson says. “He’s probably the best center you’ll see in space.”
“Oh, without question the best center that you’ll see in space,” right guard Brandon Brooks chimes in. “The closest dude I ever played with that reminds me of Jason Kelce is Chris Myers. But, as far as in space, I haven’t seen anybody better than Kelce as long as I’ve been playing.”
“Honestly, I feel like he was always a culture figure in Philadelphia,” Brooks says. “I think the thing he did at the Art Museum steps put him over the top but that’s always been Jason Kelce. In the biggest moments, he rises to the top.”