Although Cleveland Heights native Jason Kelce did not address comments about or directed toward his teammates, coaches and the Philadelphia Eagles during the season, he surely was paying close attention.
Following the Eagles’ 41-33 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis Sunday, Kelce let some of that emotion go in a tearful press conference. And Kelce let those emotions go even more when talking about being considered underdogs in an impassioned speech at the Eagles’ Championship Parade Thursday.
“It’s the whole team,” Kelce said while banging his fists against the podium. It’s the whole team. This entire organization, with a bunch of driven men, accomplished something. We were a bunch of underdogs, and you know what the underdog is, it’s a hungry dog, and Jeff Stoutland has had this in our building for five years. It’s a quote in the O-line room that has stood on the wall for last five years. ‘Hungry dogs run faster,’ and that’s this team.
“The bottom line is, we wanted it more. All the players, all the coaches, the front office, Jeffrey Lurie, everybody wanted it more. That’s why we’re up here today, and that’s why we’re the first team in Eagles history to hold that freaking trophy.
“No one wanted us. No one liked this team. No analyst liked this team to win the Super Bowl, and nobody likes our fans.”
PHOTOS: Jason Kelce delivers epic speech at Philadelphia Eagles' Super Bowl Parade
ROLE OF UNDERDOG
Kelce’s speech focused on underdogs because, in his mind, “I don’t think it’s been beat home enough.”
And the seventh-year center out of the University of Cincinnati started by talking about the humility of the man in charge of putting the team together, executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman, who was demoted when former coach Chip Kelly arrived, only to be reinstated at the top of the organization after another coaching change.
“Howie Roseman, a few years ago, was relinquished of all control pretty much in this organization,” Kelce said. “He was put in the side of the building where I didn’t see him for over a year. Two years ago, when they made a decision, he came out of there a different man. He came out of there with a purpose and a drive to make this possible, and I saw a different Howie Roseman. An underdog.”
DEFENDING HIS COACH
And Kelce did not stop there.
After two years of hearing questions about coach Doug Pederson, Kelce let doubters know why his players love him, centering on the fact that the on-field leader had the faith and strength to call a trick play, “Philly Special,” on fourth-and-goal that resulted in a touchdown in Super Bowl LII.
After being stopped short of the goal line on three consecutive plays, the Eagles ran a trick play as Foles walked out of the backfield and lined up as a tight end on the right side while running back Corey Clement took the direct snap from Kelce.
While running left, Clement pitched the ball to tight end Trey Burton, who aired out a throw to Foles. Foles ran an unguarded out route toward the right sideline and hauled in the touchdown catch, which gave the Eagles a 22-12 advantage.
“When Doug Pederson was hired, he was rated as the worst coaching hire by a lot of freaking analysts out there in the media,” Kelce said. “This past offseason, some clown named Mike Lombardi told him that he was the least-qualified head coach in the NFL.
“You saw a driven Doug Pederson, a man who went for it on fourth-and-down, went for it on fourth-and-down in the Super Bowl with a trick play. He wasn’t playing just to go mediocre. He’s playing for a Super Bowl. And it don’t stop with him. It does not stop with him.”
Following the parade, former NFL executive Michael Lombardi, who spent the 2013 season as GM of the Cleveland Browns, tweeted a response to Kelce's claim.
Throughout his whole speech on the famous “Rocky Steps” outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Kelce was cheered loudly, especially when referencing why Philadelphia and the Eagles have an unbreakable bond.
As teammates held up a custom-made Eagles Super Bowl Champions title belt sent to them courtesy of World Wrestling Entertainment, Kelce channeled his inner “Stone Cold” Steve Austin by asking fans: “If you love the Eagles, let me get a ‘Hell Yeah!’”
Later in his address, Kelce described why this Super Bowl run was about far more than just the 53 men who took the field last Sunday.
“You know who the biggest underdog is? It’s y’all, Philadelphia,” Kelce said. “For 52 years, y’all have been waiting for this. You want to talk about an underdog? You want to talk about a hungry dog? For 52 years, you’ve been starved of this championship. Everybody wonders why we’re so mean. Everybody wonders why the Philadelphia Eagles aren’t the nicest fans. If I don’t eat breakfast, I’m (expletive) pissed off.”
At the end of his address, Kelce led an expletive-laden chant that brought out passion from the fans and proved to be such a tough act to follow that tight end Zach Ertz kept his comments short and sweet.
“No one likes us! No one likes us! No one likes us! We don’t care. We’re from Philly. (Expletive) Philly. No one likes us! We don’t care,” Kelce chanted. “No one likes us! No one likes us! No one likes us! We don’t care. We’re from Philly. (Expletive) Philly. No one likes us! We don’t care. E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles!”