Is Jason Kelce a future Hall of Famer?
4 January 2020 Eagles News
There are plenty of awards inside the the world of football, but being voted into the Hall of Fame is one of the highest honors a player can receive after their football career has ended. Only 13 out of 276 total players (4.7%) are centers that have been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and five of those 13 were starters since the NFL merger in 1970.
For Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, there have been recent discussions as to whether or not he is worth mentioning in the conversation for the Hall of Fame. Kelce will have played 9 seasons at the end of the 2019-2020 season, selected to three Pro Bowls, earned three All-Pro honors and won one Super Bowl all in just 126 starts—a pretty good resume for someone who was drafted in the 6th round in the 2011 NFL Draft. One could definitely say that Kelce is the best 6th round draft choice in Eagles franchise history, but are his accolades enough to be considered for the HOF?
It is hard to compare anything before the merger since players were two or sometimes three-position players. However, below will include the averages of numbers including all 13 HOF centers & the averages of numbers of the five HOF centers since the merger.
Average Pro Bowl selections among all 13 centers: 5.5
Average Pro Bowl selections among just the 5 centers since merger: 7
Kelce’s Pro Bowl selections: 3
Average First team All-Pro selections among all 13 centers: 4.6
Average First team All-Pro selections among just the 5 centers since merger: 4.4
Kelce’s First team All-Pro selections: 3
Average games started among all 13 centers: 177.4
Average games started among just the 5 centers since merger: 187
Kelce’s games started: 126
Average number of seasons started among all 13 centers: 11.6
Average number of seasons started among just the 5 centers since merger: 10.6
Kelce’s seasons started: 9
After seeing the above stats there should only be one question: does Jason Kelce need to play longer? Kelce is roughly one or two good seasons of play away from matching some of the averages listed above. At 32, his dominance has certainly caught on towards the latter end of his career but that is largely due to being an unknown name early in his career. His play and character have been great ever since being drafted by the Eagles.
One argument against Kelce’s HOF nod is that he just hasn’t been as dominant throughout his entire career. One example to show this is Dolphins HOF center Dwight Stephenson. A 1998 HOF inductee, Stephenson played six seasons (eight total seasons) as a primary starter in 87 games for the Dolphins, was selected to five Pro Bowls, earned five All-Pro honors but did not win a Super Bowl. He was dominant starter despite having a starting career that was fairly short. So while on a streak of receiving All-Pro honors three in a row, is Kelce’s HOF dependent on him extending his career while people are finally watching his elite performance on the field?
History says Kelce has done enough to be eligible for the HOF. There are only four players in Eagles franchise history who have won a championship and received All-Pro honors three times in their careers: Chuck Bednarik, Pete Pihos, Steve Van Buren and Jason Kelce. All names preceding Kelce are Hall of Famers. Kelce is also the third offensive lineman in NFL history to receive All-Pro honors in their 30s. The other two are Jim Ringo and Gene Hickerson, also Hall of Famers.
Now put aside the stats, the numbers and the accolades. Jason Kelce would be put into the Hall of Fame immediately if speeches were the only measurable to get in. Kelce’s Super Bowl 52 speech will go down as one of the most legendary NFL speeches to ever be delivered. As passionate as can be, Kelce delivered a speech that resonated fully with Eagles fans as he listed every player on the roster and what criticism each player received throughout the season leading up to the franchise’s first Super Bowl win.
Obviously a speech can only go so far, but when it comes to voting time Jason Kelce should be considered for the HOF for being one the NFL’s best centers of the modern era. His personality and attitude can elevate a locker room and he has proven why even a 6th round choice can rise to the top and be an NFL Hall of Famer.