Exclusive: “I think it’s no coincidence that I enjoyed the best year of my career with Kylie by my side,” Jason credits his wife.

Exclusive: “I think it’s no coincidence that I enjoyed the best year of my career with Kylie by my side,” Jason credits his wife.

 

Jason Kelce officially retired from the NFL this week, delivering an emotional, heartfelt speech to reporters in which he reflected on his career, and thanked the many people who have helped him achieve his athletic dreams.

 

Exclusive: “I think it’s no coincidence that I enjoyed the best year of my career with Kylie by my side,” Jason credits his wife.
The Eagles center was so overcome that he began crying before the press conference even commenced, and paused to collect himself at several times throughout—and he was perfectly content to let the world see his vulnerability during this pivotal moment in his life.

Kelce’s entire speech was moving to see, particularly when speaking about his love for his wife, Kylie McDevitt, and his brother, fellow NFL star Travis Kelce, who could also be seen wiping away tears from behind his sunglasses in the crowd.

That is part of what has made the brothers such hugely popular figures in the football world over the last few years. Sure, there’s the talent they’ve exhibited on the field, and that high-profile romance with a certain pop star—several of whose songs Jason namechecked in his speech. But there’s also the close bond they clearly share, and their tendency to lift each other up at the slightest opportunity; the kind of generous and earnest dynamic that often gets described as “positive masculinity.”

But in his retirement speech, Jason demonstrated his trademark lack of self-consciousness in a way that all too few famous men do. He wasn’t embarrassed to cry in public because the emotions he was conveying were genuine. Why would he try to pretend not to care?

This is the part of those old-fashioned “boys don’t cry” ideas that is so confusing: who, exactly, benefits? Here is a man who evidently feels deeply, and treasures his relationships with the people around him—a man who isn’t quick to anger but quick to laugh and to hug and, yes, to cry—and whose life seems all the richer for it.

 

Exclusive: “I think it’s no coincidence that I enjoyed the best year of my career with Kylie by my side,” Jason credits his wife.
A lot of other people were in their feelings while watching the livestream of Jason’s speech, and the fact that such an open display of emotion resonated so widely, and evoked sobs in so many, just goes to show that sports fans seem to agree: there’s nothing wrong with those big, manly tears, and we could probably do with more of them.

We could also learn a thing or two about living in the moment from Jason, whose ebullient, fun-loving personality is constantly bursting out, like when he whipped off his shirt to raucously celebrate Travis’ touchdown, or donned a luchador mask to a Super Bowl afterparty. It’s this very same down-for-anything, our-kinda-guy quality that led to him starring in his own Super Bowl commercial, where he revelled in pouring hot sauce on every manner of food imaginable. Incredible things can happen when you’re not afraid of looking stupid, or too busy taking yourself super-seriously.

Whether he’s celebrating his beloved brother’s wins or tearfully stepping away from a sport that means the world to him, Jason Kelce has never been afraid to feel his feelings. He might not be a pro athlete any more, but he deserves to remain a role model for a long time.