Jason Kelce moved one step closer to the Hall of Fame Friday when the Eagles’ superstar center was named to the 1st-team NFL All-Pro team for the fourth time in his legendary career.
Earlier this year, Kelce was named to his fifth Pro Bowl, but this is only the second time in his career he’s been a Pro Bowler and 1st-team All-Pro the same season. Both honors were also given to Kelce in 2019.
Even at 34 years old and in his 11th season, Kelce has played at a remarkably high level, anchoring an offensive line that helped the Eagles rank 12th in scoring and 1st in rushing yards in Nick Sirianni’s first season and was the centerpiece of an unlikely playoff run.
The voting was not close. Kelce received 21 votes out of 50 in balloting by a panel football writers. This is 10 more than Corey Linsley from the Chargers who was 2nd-team pro with 11 votes. Three other centers – Creed Humphrey of the Chiefs (10), the Bucs’ Ryan Jensen (5) and the Colts’ Ryan Kelly (3) – also received votes.
With each postseason honor he receives, Kelce’s Hall of Fame chances increase.
Kelce is only the 11th center to earn four All-Pro honors, and each of the 10 others are already enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He’s the first four-time All-Pro center since Dermontti Dawson of the Steelers made six in a row from 1993 through 1998.
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53 offensive linemen have received at least four 1st team All-Pro honors. Of the 50 eligible for the Hall of Fame inductees, 44 have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Five of the six other offensive linemen played in the 1950s and earlier.
There have been 114 players in NFL history at all positions who’ve made four All-Pro teams and five Pro Bowl teams, and of the 102 who are Hall of Fame eligible, only 13 have not been enshrined.
Kelce is also only the 25th player in NFL history drafted in the 6th round or later to be named 1st-team All-Pro at least four times.
One thing that makes Kelce’s career so unique is that he didn’t make a Pro Bowl until his fourth season and didn’t make All-Pro until his seventh. But that’s how it goes for late-round picks who enter the league without a lot of hype. To get noticed, they need to be special.
Kelce has certainly done this. He is the NFL’s smallest center and has redefined the position. Kelce’s athleticism, quickness. leverage, intelligence, and power combine to make it a formidable position.
Kelce, 34, was the Eagles’ 6th-round pick in 2011 and immediately became the team’s starting center as a rookie. He’s started 159 games in his career under four different head coaches, including 122 in a row since November of 2014. That’s the longest current streak of any interior lineman by 40 games and the 4th-longest streak of starts in Eagles history behind Jon Runyan (144), Herm Edwards (135) and Jerry Sisemore (127).
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The only Eagles to earn 1st-team All-Pro honors more than Kelce are Reggie White (6), Bednarik (6), Pete Pihos (5) and Steve Van Buren (5). Al Wistert and Brian Dawkins were also honored four times. Wistert is not a Hall of Famer, but all are Hall of Famer except Wistert.
Sunday will see Kelce play in his eighth playoff match when the Eagles take on the Buccaneers. This wild-card game will be played in Tampa. For all his exploits on the field, he’s admired just as much in Philly for his epic Super Bowl parade speech at the Art Museum while wearing a Mummer’s costume.
Kelce has yet to indicate whether he will return next season for a 12thseason. The only players in franchise history who’ve played 12 seasons and never played for another team are Chuck Bednarik (1949-62), Northeast Catholic’s Bucko Kilroy (1943-55), Vic Sears (1941-53), Bobby Walston (1951-62) and Sisemore (1973-84).
Since 1940, the NFL’s all-pro team has always been selected by the Associated Press. The team was previously selected from 1930 to 1939 by United Press International and from 1923 to 1929 by Collyers Eye Magazine.