Jason Kelce Tells Disney Upfront Crowd How Glad He Is To Be Joining “Monday Night Freakin’ Football!”

Jason Kelce, who retired earlier this year after 13 years with the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, told the crowd at Disney’s upfront how pumped he is to be joining “Monday Night Freakin’ Football!”

While he kept his shirt on (unlike last January, when he supported his brother, Travis, topless in the cold), Kelce summoned the emotional intensity of his retirement announcement. When Abbot Elementary’s Quinta Brunson introduced him, Kelce hoisted her up off her feet, prompting the TV creator to joke that she felt like she’d just been on the Guardians of the Galaxy ride.

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Kelce’s retirement was magnified by him becoming a player in the widely obsessed about romance between his brother, Travis, a member of the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs, and pop superstar Taylor Swift. As the Chiefs marched through the playoffs, the Eagles wound up at home, giving Jason Kelce the chance to support his brother and commune with fans (including Swift). Kelce recalled how much Monday Night Football he and his brother watched while growing up outside Cleveland, OH.

The news of Kelce joining Monday Night Countdown on-air team broke last month, but the Pro-Bowler hadn’t commented extensively about his new role.

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ESPN SportsCenter host Scott Van Pelt did a brief on-stage interview with the newest Monday night personality. “It’s upfront season in New York and it gives me great pleasure to say to you all, ‘We got him!'” Van Pelt crowed.

After Van Pelt asked about stepping away from the game, Kelce said, “It all hits you at once. … You almost remember the adversity more than you do success. A lot of emotions get baked into it. But I look forward to starting the next chapter of my career.”

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Van Pelt, Kelce and ESPN NFL studio analysts Marcus Spears and Ryan Clark went on to make a couple more announcements during their segment. One was the February 14 Super Bowl date for ABC in 2027, a piece of news that precipitated a lengthy (and questionable) series of musings by Spears about why Valentine’s Day is the “perfect” day for the Big Game. “I’m not sure that’s legal,” Kelce quipped about the crossover of U.S. holiday and quasi-holiday.

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The foursome also announced that the Monday night opener would feature the New York Jets taking on the San Francisco 49ers. The Jets’ season kickoff last year on ESPN is etched into Jets history because newly signed free-agent quarterback Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon on the fourth play of the game. The season-ending injury dashed the team’s Super Bowl hopes and capped months of anticipation for the team, highlighted by a run on HBO’s NFL training camp series, Hard Knocks.

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