Jason Kelce’s Retirement Speech Is an Important Lesson for Kids

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Fans are praising the former NFL player for visibly crying during his retirement press conference.

<p>GettyImages/Kevin Sabitus/Contributor</p>

GettyImages/Kevin Sabitus/Contributor

Fact checked by Sarah Scott

It was an emotional moment as Jason Kelce, the former Philadelphia Eagles center, announced his retirement after playing for the team for 13 years during a press conference on March 4, 2024.

The tears came almost immediately while he gave a speech reflecting on his NFL legacy, which included losing last year to his younger brother, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, and his life and family off the field.

“We’ll see how long this lasts,” Jason said at the start, with his voice cracking and breaking down, covering his eyes. “Not a good start."

The moment went viral and one important reason was Jason’s willingness to show emotion, something boys are often discouraged from doing.

The entire Kelce family was present, watching as the burly, bearded, typically jovial and wise-cracking Jason broke down in tears multiple times at the podium on national television. Cameras panned the room and caught Travis wiping away tears under his sunglasses, along with their parents, Donna and Ed Kelce, dabbing tissues at their faces.

“We did almost everything together,” he said of Travis. “Competed, fought, laughed, and learned from each other.”

The 36-year-old also expressed gratitude for wife Kylie Kelce and their three daughters, saying, “Every accolade I have ever received has come with her in my life,” and that she has brought “the best" out of him.

The Kelce brothers took to their popular podcast New Heights afterward to talk about Jason’s retirement announcement, which Travis called “one for the ages.” Jason admitted he had rehearsed his speech several times in the days prior and that it was hard to come to grips with the finality of his decision.

"I was hoping I had said it enough times that I wouldn’t cry as much as I did," he continued. "I think it’s good to show emotion through it, but I was sobbing before I even started."

His announcement was not a complete surprise to fans; talk of his retirement started ramping up after the Eagles playoff loss to the Buccaneers this season. What was surprising to many, was Jason’s open vulnerability, revealing a depth of emotion typically not associated with the tough and gritty nature of football.

Fans on social media immediately applauded the display.

“Vulnerability is a superpower and I wish men weren’t looked down upon for it,” explained one commenter on X.

Others praised the athlete's parents for raising the brothers to be open about their feelings.

“Donna did an incredible job raising these boys,” commented another user on X. One more agreed writing, “Whatever Ed and Donna did to help their sons become emotionally available needs to be studied.”

"I would love to watch a documentary with the parents explaining how they raised strong men physically, emotionally & psychologically," another X user praised. "The Kelces appear to be such great, well-rounded people. Would love to know the strategy."

As a mom of two boys who will someday be “modern men,” I fully agree with the sentiments. Despite the myriad of studies about the importance of teaching our children how to express emotion, research shows boys are still faced with a societal expectation to show less of these tender emotions, and mostly express “externalizing” emotions such as anger, contempt, and disgust more than girls.

However, teachers and parents alike strive to encourage children to express their thoughts and feelings genuinely, contradicting the stereotypes ingrained in societal expectations.

Even children’s programs that my boys consume, like Sesame Street, Bluey, Ms. Rachel, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, emphasize emotional intelligence, promoting the understanding and expression of feelings. But elsewhere, the societal stereotypes persist, creating a daily struggle for parents seeking to break down these barriers for their children, and get to the root of why they are feeling a certain way.

I am trying to break that cycle in my home. Every night, while I tuck both of my boys into bed, we take a pause to reflect on the day and anything that may be bothering them. It gives them the opportunity to freely express their emotions in an extremely safe space (their bedrooms).

On occasion, my oldest has confided things in me that he may not have, had I not given him the space to do so. It’s where I learned about another boy bullying him in class, or how he felt sad and blamed himself for losing a soccer game because he missed a free kick.

I asked my 9-year-old son about his thoughts on Jason’s retirement press conference, and what it was like for him watching a man break down and cry on television.

He didn’t quite understand the question, and why it was such a big deal.

My son’s response was empathetic, saying, “It made me feel sad for him because he is upset he is leaving the game.” He added, “It’s good to show emotions."

Jason's ability to show emotion at the press conference is a step in the right direction to changing societal expectations and challenging the outdated notion that brute strength and resilience should exclude vulnerability. It's showing that some of our biggest role models can be in tune with their feelings unabashedly. Despite his departure from the team creating sadness within himself, his family, and a loss for Eagles fans, it’s a huge win for parents.

For more Parents news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Parents.