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Jason Kelce Asked Eagles Trainer Going Through Cancer to Tape His Ankles One Last Time for Retirement Speech

Reflecting on his time as Kelce's trainer, Joe O'Pella wrote that "what this man has meant to me and now my family over the past decade plus is nearly indescribable"

<p>Kevin Sabitus/Getty; Philadelphia Eagles</p> Jason Kelce and Joe O

Kevin Sabitus/Getty; Philadelphia Eagles

Jason Kelce and Joe O'Pella

Jason Kelce’s legacy extends far beyond the football field.

While announcing his retirement from the NFL after 13 seasons on Monday, the Philadelphia Eagles center, 36, delivered a moving speech — but he also shared an emotional moment with a longtime friend, Eagles trainer Joe O'Pella, behind the scenes.

O'Pella missed the star’s final game “due to cancer,” which he was diagnosed with during Kelce’s final season, the trainer shared in an Instagram post on Tuesday. O'Pella wrote that he was disappointed he was not able to care for Kelce in his final moments as an Eagle.

Related: Jason Kelce Thanks Wife Kylie for Giving Him 'Three Beautiful Girls' as He Announces Retirement from NFL

O'Pella had been taping Kelce’s ankles and thumbs “everyday for 13 seasons,” and did not know that the Jan. 15 playoff game would be the center’s last, he said. So, he “expressed my regret of not being the last person to ever tape him” — and Kelce had a solution.

Though he would just be sitting in a chair on stage, not taking the field for a game or practice, the Eagles center asked O'Pella to tape him up one last time for his final press conference.

"That’s who he is,” the trainer wrote.

Outside of the emotional end of their trainer-player journey together, O'Pella also detailed more of he and Kelce’s 13-season friendship — accompanied by a series of photos of the duo throughout the years.

“I remember back in Jason’s 2nd year, when he tore his knee, I went to the head trainer and told him that I needed to do his rehab bc he needed to be treated like an athlete, not a conventional offensive lineman,” O'Pella wrote. “What would occur over the next 12+ years would certainly impact my life in a way I never imagine.”

Related: Jason Kelce Tearfully Remembers Moment He Met Wife Kylie in NFL Retirement Speech: 'An Aura Around Her'

<p>AP Photo/Matt Rourke</p> Jason Kelce

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Jason Kelce

He continued, “You all know about the on-field accomplishments, and many of the off-the-field ones too, but what this man has meant to me and now my family over the past decade plus is nearly indescribable. From being his Wing Bowl ‘cornerman’, to hour long rehab sessions followed by nights out on the town, to sleeping on each other’s couches to being at each other’s weddings, to Sea Isle City Polar Bear Plunges to Super Bowl appearances and a ring, we were there doing it together.”

“And 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 I out,” he wrote, “and he called me randomly when I had been home, too sick to come in bc of chemo, just to check on me and chat about random things.”

“That’s who he is as a person,” he added.

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<p>AP Photo/Matt Rourke</p> Jason Kelce hugs Travis Kelce after his retirement press conference

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Jason Kelce hugs Travis Kelce after his retirement press conference

After sharing these memories, O'Pella wrote that he hopes “these stories can add to an already unbelievable legacy.”

“Congratulations to the entire Kelce family on a Hall of Fame career on and off the field,” he added. “To Kylie’s husband; Wyatt, Elliotte, and Bennett’s dad; the Eagles’ center; Philadelphia’s icon, and my brother: Jason, congratulations on retirement and here’s to the future. I love ya.”

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