Shaq Reveals Tell-Tale Sign That Jason Kelce Was Preparing to Officially Retire

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Shaquille O'Neal and Jason Kelce

Shaquille O’Neal insists that he knew Jason Kelce was planning to retire weeks before the now-former NFL player made the decision official.

During a recent conversation with Adam Lefkoe, co-host of The Big Podcast with O’Neal, the former NBA star reflected on a discussion he had with Kelce on the podcast last month.

O’Neal told Lefkoe that he picked up on one tell-tale sign indicating Kelce was planning to leave the NFL.

His eyes,” the former Lakers star said on his podcast’s March 6 episode. “When you interact with people, you have to realize, like, when you ask a question, if a person looks to the left, that’s the imaginative side of your brain.”

Related: What Jason Kelce Is 'Looking Forward' to After Retiring From the NFL

O’Neal said he noticed Kelce’s eyes shifting when he asked the former Philadelphia Eagles center if he did intend to walk away from the game. It wasn’t exactly that Kelce was trying to lie, O’Neal told Lefkoe, “but they're like, you know, looking for time.”

“I knew,” he added.

Kelce, 36, officially ended his 13-year career in the NFL during a March 4 press conference. His announcement followed weeks of speculation after he reportedly announced his retirement to teammates when the Eagles’ 2023 NFL season ended in mid-January. Kelce later walked back those reports, telling fans he hadn’t yet decided whether he would return for another season with the Eagles.

Kelce has discussed retirement life with other professional athletes who left their sports. While in Las Vegas last month to cheer on his brother in Super Bowl LVIII, Kelce sought advice from some of his former teammates during a conversation included on an episode of his New Heights podcast.

Related: Jason Kelce Receives Daring Offer From History Channel Following Retirement News

He also discussed retirement with O’Neal while on The Big Podcast in mid-February.

“My advice to you is, if you are going to retire, accept it and enjoy your family, brother,” O’Neal told him at the time. “I made a lot of dumb mistakes to where I lost my family and I didn’t have anybody. That’s not the case for you, so enjoy your beautiful wife, enjoy your beautiful kids.”

O’Neal also urged Kelce to “never dwell” on what he had while playing in the NFL. “You got the ring,” he said. “People know who you are.”

In a pointed post-retirement message to Kelce, the NBA player reiterated his sentiments during his conversation this week with Lefkoe.

“Remember what I said: Enjoy your beautiful wife, enjoy your beautiful family,” O’Neal said.

Next: Jason Kelce Explains 'Biggest Influence' Behind Decision to Retire—And If He Has Any Regrets