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Jason Kelce gives trainer touching gesture at retirement conference after cancer kept him from his final game

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Joseph Opera was Jason Kelce’s trainer for the Philadelphia Eagles throughout his career, and the two developed a special bond.

As a center, Kelce was always wrapped in tape, especially on his fingers and ankles, which became an iconic Philadelphia style.

Opera was battling cancer and treatment kept him away from the team, but Kelce wanted him to feel at home.


Jason Kelce, number 62, of the Philadelphia Eagles plays against the Arizona Cardinals at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on December 31, 2023. (Mitchell Lev/Getty Images)

“In what would be his final season, when I was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo radiation and chemotherapy, he offered me a beach house if I needed to escape, and offered to help my wife and I… He offered to pay for substantial services to help me, and when I was home sick, he randomly called me when I was home. [because] “Just to check up on me and talk about my ramblings. That’s who he is,” Opera wrote in an Instagram post.

But it was the least Kelce could do.

One of the days Opera was “too sick to play” was in the wild-card round against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This game was Kelce’s last as the Birds lost 32-9 to the Bucks and were eliminated from the playoffs.

That meant the opera director, who “had taped this player’s ankle and thumb every day for 13 years,” couldn’t treat Kelce the same way he would on any other game day.

Jason Kelce reacts to the crowd

Jason Kelce, No. 62 of the Philadelphia Eagles, reacts after the game against the Miami Dolphins at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on October 22, 2023. (Mitchell Lev/Getty Images)

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“When he said he was retiring, I expressed my regret for not being the last person to film him,” Opera wrote.

But Kelce didn’t let that happen.

“He requested that I record his retirement press conference,” Opera wrote.

“That’s who he is. And we hope these stories will add to an already incredible legacy.”

Jason Kelce vs Giants

Jason Kelce, No. 62 of the Philadelphia Eagles, celebrates on the field after defeating the New York Giants 38-7 in an NFC divisional playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on January 21, 2023. . (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)


During his NFL career, he played in 193 games, the second most in team history. He started 156 consecutive games, a franchise record. During his 13 NFL seasons, he was named a Pro Bowler seven times, an All-Pro six times, and won Super Bowl LII.

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