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Former Philadelphia Eagles’ center Jason Kelce delivered these words following the Eagles’ 2018 Super Bowl victory parade:

“Hungry dogs run faster.”

 

 

 

 

He echoed these same words when he announced his retirement on March 4 after 13 years in the NFL.

Kelce, who played in 193 career NFL games, decided to walk away from football at the age of 36. He tearfully shared his decision to retire in an emotional press conference on March 4, following the Eagles’ season-ending loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the wild-card round in January.

“I am retiring from the NFL after 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles,” Kelce said. “And today, I must admit, I am officially overrated. Vastly overrated. It took a lot of hard work and determination getting here. I have been the underdog my entire career, and I mean this when I say it, I wish I still was.”

Kelce’s use of the word “underdog” is fitting, as it exemplifies his legacy. Through the course of his career, Kelce has come to define what it means to be an “underdog.” Coming out of the University of Cincinnati, scouts said he was too undersized to play center in the NFL. Drafted 191st overall in 2011 by the Eagles, Kelce found a home in a city synonymous with underdogs.

In his tenure, Kelce was selected to seven Pro Bowls, received six All-Pro honors and won a Super Bowl, but accolades do not truly reflect his impact. In an era where the salary cap and free agency often cause players to change teams, Kelce remained devoted to the Eagles. The grit and toughness he displayed resonated with fans every Sunday and showed that he understood what it meant to be a Philadelphia athlete — what it meant to be an underdog.

“This city really appreciates accountability, appreciates people being very honest, real, emotionally invested, caring,” Kelce said in a 2021 press conference. “There’s a lot of people that say it’s a hard place to play, I think it’s pretty fucking easy to be honest with you. You just go out there (and) play hard.”

Kelce’s embrace of the underdog mentality became the heart and soul of the Eagles in 2018 when they won their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Throughout the playoffs, Kelce and the Eagles weren’t favored in any games with a backup quarterback starting, despite entering as the No. 1 seed. Oddsmakers consistently labeled Philadelphia with that magic word, “underdogs.”

After “upsetting” the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round and the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game, the story was complete when the Eagles, once again as underdogs, defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 in the Super Bowl.

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