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From Reid to Super Bowls, Eagles 4 stalwarts done it all

Fri Feb 3 11:17am ET
By DAN GELSTON
AP Sports Writer

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Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) celebrates his touchdown catch with wide receiver A.J. Brown (11) and center Jason Kelce (62) during the first half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game against the New York Giants, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)


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Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65) reacts after running back Kenneth Gainwell (14) rushed for a first down against the New York Giants during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)


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Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce talks to the media before an NFL football workout, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles are scheduled to play the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in the NFC championship game.(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)


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Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce talks to the media before an NFL football workout, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles are scheduled to play the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in the NFC championship game.(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)


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Philadelphia Eagles' Brandon Graham smiles while speaking during a news conference at the NFL football team's training facility, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles are scheduled to play the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)


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San Francisco 49ers quarterback Josh Johnson, left, passes under pressure from Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham during the first half of the NFC Championship NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)


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Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts, left, offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65) and teammates react after the NFC Championship NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 31-7. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


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Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, center, stands with defensive end Brandon Graham (55) offensive tackle Lane Johnson (65), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, and center Jason Kelce (62) after the NFC Championship NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles won 31-7. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)


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Philadelphia Eagles' Brandon Graham pauses during a news conference at the NFL football team's training facility, Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles are scheduled to play the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)


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Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Fletcher Cox talks to the media before an NFL football workout, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Eagles are scheduled to play the San Francisco 49ers Sunday in the NFC championship game.(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)


PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jason Kelce felt the pull of retirement after the Eagles slogged through a miserable 2020 season and a second Super Bowl any time soon seemed like a joke. The Christmas album crooner,honorary Mummer and All-Pro center - how many players have all those titles in their NFL.com bio? - considered walking away at the end of last season. His future was one of the more pressing offseason questions on tap, so Philadelphia Eagles coach Nick Sirianni shipped the big guy two cases of beer to coax him to stay.

So Kelce stayed.

''I've learned now I don't know when that last game is going to come,'' the 35-year-old Kelce said.

Hey, at least Kelce knows for sure when the last game this season is going to come.

Kelce has tried not to consider that the Super Bowl against Kansas City could be his final game as an Eagle. But he's not the only veteran Eagle and Super Bowl champion with a murky future. Kelce, Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are the lone holdovers from former coach Andy Reid's last season with the Eagles in 2012. There's a chance none of the three will be back for the 2023 season.

''I know them personally and they are tough guys, tough-minded,'' Reid said. ''They're good leaders, fun to be around, and they're good football players. Each one has their own characteristic, but in general I'd tell you that about all of them, great team guys.''

Lane Johnson completes the four veteran anchors and was a rookie in former coach Chip Kelly's first season in 2013.

The tenured stars - the Core Four - have won a Super Bowl under former coach Doug Pederson and won just four games in 2020. They've been hurt and set records. They've also raised the standard on what it means to be an Eagle. The best way to do that is go out and win the big one in style.

''Since the day I got here, that's all they talk about,'' defensive tackle Javon Hargrave said. ''Tell me how they feel when they went to the Super Bowl and all the memories they had. It's pretty cool to have people who have done it before.''

Hargrave's nod to the veterans was interrupted when Graham pulled on his gaudy Super Bowl jacket - with tags dangling from the sleeve - at the neighboring locker. All they need is a new ring to complete the ensemble.

If they beat the Chiefs, some might go out in Philly on top.

This is no ordinary game for Kelce. On the Kansas City side, there's Reid, the coach who drafted him. Also over there is his brother, tight end Travis Kelce, marking the first time siblings will face off in the Super Bowl. One more thing, Kelce's wife Kylie is pregnant and the couple is bringing their ob-gyn to Arizona just in case.

Kelce has been as durable as they come, with the Super Bowl putting him at 149 consecutive games.

''He's out there at practice every day limping around and giving his all to the team,'' tight end Dallas Goedert said.

Let's take a look at some of the foursome's finer moments:

-----

Jason Kelce. Age 35. Center. Sixth-round pick, 2011. Five-time first-team All-Pro.

The burly, bushy-haired Bird has been a stalwart of the offensive line since he was drafted and as an Iron Man after he missed most of the 2012 season with a partially torn MCL and torn ACL. He's in the last season of his contract.

He's a fan favorite and has done it all outside the football field, such as singing the national anthem at a 76ers game, partying with the Phanatic and pounding a beer to a roaring ovation at a Phillies postseason game.

But the moment that endeared him for life to the Philly faithful came at the 2018 Super Bowl parade when he dressed as one of Philadelphia's famed Mummer's and the ultimate underdog delivered a fiery, profane speech that whipped the crowd into a frenzy.

''No one likes us! No one likes us! No one likes us! We don't care,'' Kelce exclaimed. ''We're from Philly! (Expletive) Philly. No one likes us! We don't care!''

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