Lauren Durose, Co-Deputy Film & TV Editor
Following the 12th year of Jason Kelce’s career with the Philadelphia Eagles, this documentary shadows him through questions surrounding retirement, the potentialities of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), a child on the way, the rise of his podcast New Heights, and facing his brother in the Super Bowl.
It is almost instantly established the genuine nature of Kelce and the amount of gruelling work he has put in to make it to the top. The continuous pain that he lives with due to the ongoing list of injuries he has faced, plus the regular head collisions his position forces him to experience every game, sees Kelce beginning to question whether his 12th season will be his last.
The idea of retirement evidently worries him, pondering what he will do and how will it bring him the same levels of motivation that American Football has contributed to his entire life. His deteriorating mobility however, and the key factor that he has a third daughter due at the end of the season, maintains the conversation as to whether it’s time to leave the field. Discussing the topic with ex-athletes, close friends, and his wife, it is clear Kelce does not want to let go of his career yet but is all too aware of the potential consequences that playing the sport brings to his future.
Kylie Kelce, Jason’s wife, and the rapidly rising star of the show, makes clear that she supports him, and only desires that he is able to properly play with his children throughout their childhood. Kylie appears to ever be the voice of reason and exemplifies emotional intelligence.
As a team, the Eagles seemed to quickly advance through to the playoffs, and eventually qualify for the Super Bowl. After celebrations, we see Jason run off to change and get ready to watch the Kansas City Chiefs, the team in which his brother plays, who are also fighting for a spot in the biggest game of the season.
Travis Kelce clearly admires his older brother, his jersey number being that of his brother’s year of birth; the respect between them is clear. Jason is shown not only to be a kind person but a protective and deserving older brother, backing Travis in the face of adversity. The family’s dedication to one another is admirable; his parents choosing to stay together longer than they personally wanted, as it was the only way they felt they could manage the logistics of familial life, Jason securing Travis a second chance after mistakes saw his career derailed. The Kelce’s as a family unit appear idyllic.
In the realisation that he will be playing his brother in the final, Jason appears somewhat sombre. Undeniably and obviously proud of one another and having clearly rooted for each team to advance so far, the reality that they will be the first brothers to ever compete against one another at the highest level of NFL induces a moment of quiet within the documentary.
Ultimately, it is the Kansas City Chiefs who win. Whilst the Kelce brothers continue to act in the most respectful and caring way towards one another, Kylie Kelce refreshes the audience with her authentic emotion; as an Eagles fan prior to meeting Jason, her devastation is obvious. The tears and general quietness of the scenes that follow the confetti filled stadium remind us how much families put into their loved ones. Their daughters help to bring humour, reminding their father that he didn’t win whilst also loudly establishing they didn’t want their Uncle Trav to be victorious. Jason remains gracious, whilst Kylie allows their true emotions to be felt – they can feel happy for Travis tomorrow.
The rest of the documentary follows the birth of Kylie and Jason’s third daughter and Jason’s final decision as to whether he should retire. We see the raw actualities of success and the effects of that on the family dynamic; how seemingly unmissable opportunities mean something has to give – in this case, his eldest daughter’s birthday.
This documentary may be marketed for sports fanatics but in reality, it is about the importance of family, the reality of sacrifice, the comradery within a team – both on the pitch and within the home – and the thoughtfulness in which all athletes should conduct themselves.
Jason Kelce was beloved before this documentary, a leader amongst his team and a valued occupant of Philadelphia, but this film and his brotherly podcast will most likely cement his popularity.
Featured Image: IMDb