Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce didn't enter the NFL with the highest hopes. Coming out of Cincinnati University in 2011, Kelce waited for six rounds before hearing his name get called at the 2011 NFL Draft. That year, he became the 191st pick after receiving the call from the Eagles.
It's tough for sixth-round picks to crack the final 53-man roster in the NFL, let alone earning playing time on Sundays. However, Kelce never worried about that. As he focused on doing his job and doing whatever it took to get better, Kelce improved day by day and eventually became the face of Philly's offensive line.
Now, at 33-years-old, Kelce is one of the most accomplished centers in the NFL. He's a four-time Pro Bowler, three-time First-Team All-Pro, and a Super Bowl Champion. Considering all that he's accomplished in the City of Brotherly Love, Kelce has become a legend in Philadelphia.
Since he knows what it takes to earn that kind of status in a town that's viewed as difficult for professional players due to the fan base, Kelce has a strong message for disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons, two days after the All-Star walked out of practice and earned a suspension.
"I tell guys, you write your own narrative. I don't want to crush any other players, but what's going on with the 76ers, Ben Simmons, stuff like that, all of that is because of a lack of accountability, a lack of owning up to mistakes and a lack of correcting things," Kelce said. "If all that got corrected, if you're fixing free throws, if you're getting better as a player, none of this is happening. So everybody can [expletive] and complain about how tough this city is to play in. Just play better, man. This city will love you." via ESPN.
When Simmons came to Philadelphia, he was the first-overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Right off the bat, Simmons earned a high level of support without playing a single game. Although the Philly fan base mostly stuck with him throughout the years despite his lack of offensive development, a report indicated that Simmons believes he can't make mistakes in Philly due to the high pedestal he was put on when he came in the NBA.
Kelce believes that none of that should be a thought in Simmons' mind. As the Eagles star noted that no matter where you play professional sports, you'll always get crushed for playing bad. And even though the nationwide narrative is that Philadelphia is a tough place to play, Kelce found out it's pretty easy when you simply do your job, work hard, and take accountability when necessary.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.