Monday, 15 Apr 2024

Jason Kelce: A Legacy Among the Greatest Centers in NFL History

greatest centers of all time football

The Philadelphia Eagles bid farewell not only to their playoff hopes but also to their longtime center, Jason Kelce. After 13 NFL seasons, all spent in Philly, the 36-year-old is reportedly retiring. Kelce leaves behind a legacy, earning numerous accolades throughout his career and solidifying his place as one of the best centers in league history.

Kelce’s Place Among the Greatest Centers of All Time

So, how does Jason Kelce stack up against the greatest centers of all time? Let’s delve into a list of ten of the best to ever play the position.

Chuck Bednarik

  • Teams: Philadelphia Eagles (1949-1962)
  • Awards and career highlights: Eight-time Pro Bowl, 10-time First-Team All-Pro, two-time NFL champion, and Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 1967 (first ballot)

Chuck Bednarik was a two-way player, excelling as both a center and linebacker. He was instrumental in leading the Eagles to two championships in 1949, his rookie season, and 1960. Bednarik’s achievements include being inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame and having his No. 60 jersey retired.

Chuck Bednarik

Dermontti Dawson

  • Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers (1988-2000)
  • Awards and career highlights: Seven-time Pro Bowl, six-time First-Team All-Pro, and Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2012
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Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher declared Dermontti Dawson as “the best athlete to ever play that position.” Dawson’s durability was remarkable, as he played 10 straight seasons without missing a game. His No. 63 jersey has not been reissued by the franchise since his retirement.

Mel Hein

  • Teams: New York Giants (1931-1945)
  • Awards and career highlights: 1938 NFL MVP, eight-time First-Team All-Pro, and Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 1963 (inaugural class)

Like Bednarik, Mel Hein was a two-way player during the early days of the NFL. In his 15 seasons with the Giants, Hein won the league MVP and appeared in seven NFL championship games.

Jason Kelce

  • Teams: Philadelphia Eagles (2011-2023)
  • Awards and career highlights: Seven-time Pro Bowl, six-time First-Team All-Pro, and Super Bowl LII champion

Kelce’s 13-year career included 193 regular-season starts, with an impressive streak of 156 consecutive games to close his career. Notably, he became a key figure in the Eagles’ unstoppable “Brotherly Shove” quarterback sneak. Kelce’s crowning achievement came when he won the Super Bowl with the Eagles in 2017.

Jason Kelce

Olin Kreutz

  • Teams: Chicago Bears (1998-2010), New Orleans Saints (2011)
  • Awards and career highlights: Six-time Pro Bowl, 2006 First-Team All-Pro, and NFL 2000s All-Decade Team

Olin Kreutz made his mark as an all-time Bear, starting 182 regular-season games — second only to Walter Payton in franchise history. Known for his aggressiveness and physicality, Kreutz played a vital role in the Bears’ Super Bowl appearance in 2006.

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Kevin Mawae

  • Teams: Seattle Seahawks (1994-1997), New York Jets (1998-2005), Tennessee Titans (2006-2009)
  • Awards and career highlights: Eight-time Pro Bowl, seven-time First-Team All-Pro, and Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2019

Kevin Mawae began his career as a guard before transitioning to center, during which he solidified his status as an all-time great. Mawae’s best years came with the Jets, with whom he excelled under multiple head coaches and quarterbacks before finishing his career with the Titans.

Jim Otto

  • Teams: Oakland Raiders (1960-1974)
  • Awards and career highlights: Nine-time AFL All-Star, three-time Pro Bowl, and Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 1980 (first ballot)

Jim Otto’s career spanned both the AFL and NFL, with the merger occurring in 1970. During his 15-season tenure with the Raiders, he appeared in six AFL/AFC championship games. Otto’s dedication to the game was undeniable, having undergone nearly 74 operations throughout his life.

Jeff Saturday

  • Teams: Indianapolis Colts (1999-2011), Green Bay Packers (2012)
  • Awards and career highlights: Six-time Pro Bowl, two-time First-Team All-Pro, and Super Bowl XLI champion

Though initially an undrafted player, Jeff Saturday’s career took off when he joined the Colts in 1999. Saturday became Peyton Manning’s trusted center and played a significant role throughout the majority of Manning’s career. He retired in 2013 after a single season with the Green Bay Packers.

Jeff Saturday

Dwight Stephenson

  • Teams: Miami Dolphins (1980-1987)
  • Awards and career highlights: Five-time Pro Bowl, four-time First-Team All-Pro, and Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 1998
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Dwight Stephenson anchored the Miami Dolphins’ offensive line during his eight-year career. Injuries prematurely ended his playing days, but during his time, the Dolphins’ offensive line conceded the fewest sacks in the NFL from 1982 to 1987.

Mike Webster

  • Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers (1974-1988), Kansas City Chiefs (1989-1990)
  • Awards and career highlights: Nine-time Pro Bowl, six-time First-Team All-Pro, four-time Super Bowl champion, and Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 1997

Mike Webster played a crucial role in anchoring the Steelers’ offensive line during their dominant 1970s dynasty, which included four Super Bowl victories. After playing in a staggering 220 regular-season games and 19 postseason games for the franchise, Webster solidified his place as one of the greatest Steelers of all time.

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Conclusion

Jason Kelce’s retirement marks the end of an era for the Philadelphia Eagles. Throughout his 13-year career, Kelce established himself as one of the finest centers in NFL history. As we reflect on his accomplishments, it becomes evident that Kelce’s legacy will endure among the pantheon of greats at his position.