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Jason Kelce had Eagles trainer who’s fighting cancer tape his ankles for retirement speech

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Jason Kelce retirement from NFL drives Travis Kelce to tears

When Jason Kelce announced his retirement, the Eagles released a video showing Kelce thanking team employees for their years of hard work. A close look at that video revealed something unusual: Kelce’s ankles were taped, the way they would be for a game. It turns out that the ankle tape reflected a special relationship between Kelce and a team trainer.

Eagles trainer Joe O’Pella wrote on social media that he had been taping Kelce’s ankles every game for years. But O’Pella but missed the final game of Kelce’s career, the playoff loss in Tampa, because he was getting chemotherapy. So Kelce asked O’Pella to be the last person to tape his ankles as an Eagle, and do it before his retirement speech.

“You all know about the on-field accomplishments, and many of the off-field ones, too, but what this man has meant to me and now my family over the past decade plus is nearly indescribable,” O’Pella wrote.

“In what would be his final season, when I was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo radiation and chemo, he offered his shore house if I needed to get away, and offered to pay for meal services to help my wife and me out, and he called me randomly when I had been home, too sick to come in because of chemo, just to check on me and chat about random things. That’s who he is as a person.

I taped this guy’s ankles and thumbs everyday for 13 seasons, and when he played his last game in Tampa, again I couldn’t be there due to cancer. And when he told me he would be retiring and I expressed my regret of not being the last person to ever tape him, he offered to have me tape him for his retirement press conference. That’s who he is. And I hope theses stories can add to an already unbelievable legacy.”

In the video of Kelce addressing Eagles employees, he expresses his gratitude.

“Thank you so much fo everything that everyone in here does and means to this organization, to the players,” Kelce said. “It’s been an honor to work with all of you.”

The feeling is clearly mutual.

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