CLEARWATER, Fla. — Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce got plenty of attention for his salty language during the Super Bowl celebration parade. The All-Pro says he tried to tone it down when he spoke inside the Phillies clubhouse on Monday.
But once Kelce started his speech, he found that old habits die hard.
“I probably cursed a little more, actually,” Kelce said. “At least through the start of the speech I made an effort to not curse and then that quickly faded.”
Wearing a red No. 62 Phillies spring training jersey, Kelce was the main guest during the first official day of team workouts.
“I played baseball all the way up until high school,” Kelce said. “I threw my elbow out when I was like 12 years old, tore the plate off my bone, I didn’t play baseball after that.”
Kelce spent a lot of time watching pitchers throw their side sessions and said there was plenty he could take away from watching them interact with catchers.
“Baseball is an awesome sport,” Kelce said. “I’ve just been picking up some of what goes on between the pitcher and catcher because I think there are a lot of similarities between the mental chess game going on there as there is with me and Carson (Wentz) kind of assessing defenses and stuff like that.”
New Phillies manager Gape Kapler said that he spoke with Kelce separately and discussed the rapport Eagles players had with head coach Doug Pederson and the coaching staff.
“Jason and I discussed that and talked about how that communication was the two-way street,” Kapler said. “He shared what a good communicator coach Pederson was and how that communication was critical in establishing and maintaining trust throughout the season.”
Kapler said he felt the message Kelce gave his players was one that will inspire them and one they needed to hear as they begin the season.
“I think there were 8 to 10 (things) to take away, but the No. 1 was it is OK to fall down, be fearless, get back up, be bold and do it all over again,” Kapler said. “Champions have stories to share and they’re effective for a reason.
“Because they’ve been through the ups and downs, they’ve displayed courage, they’ve come together as units, they know what it feels like to have people count them out and then to prove people wrong,” he said.
Kapler said the Phillies’ video production staff put together a piece for the team over the weekend that included some highlights from the other sports teams in the city, as well as some footage from the movie “Rocky” spliced in and some highlights of their own players.
The relationship with the city is something Kapler wants the Phillies to embrace.
“We feel like we’re in a partnership with the city of Philadelphia, the fans of Philadelphia and certainly the sports teams of Philadelphia,” he said. “You saw it today with Jason. He felt like he was a part of the Phillies family. He wore that ‘Be Bold’ T-shirt proudly, then he put on a Phillies jersey and a Phillies cap.
“This is an All-Pro center on the best offensive line in football from a Super Bowl championship team. And here he was in our clubhouse today sort of backing the Phillies. I thought that was pretty remarkable,” he said.