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Jason Kelce, Family Man

Daily Wire

March 8, 2024

In his tear-filled farewell speech, Jason Kelce brought his 13-year NFL career to a close by underlining what really mattered in life: marriage and family. The longtime Philadelphia Eagles player, who made the NFL Pro Bowl in each of the last five seasons after getting married to his wife, Kylie, in 2018, said in his retirement speech: 

It’s no coincidence I have enjoyed my best years with Kylie by my side. She has brought the best out of me through love, devotion, support, honesty, intelligence, and a swift kick in the ass — from time to time. She has also given me three beautiful girls and a life that increasingly brings me more fulfillment off the field than it does on.

He went on to say that he has seen his job as a father as of paramount importance:

I think one of the best things a person can be in this world is a father. A father who is present, devoted, and loving is the greatest gift a child could ask for in our society.

In the emotional retirement speech, Kelce acknowledged that the family he built was one of the most important things in his life. Kylie Kelce was his saving grace. Being a father brought renewed purpose to Kelce’s life. Kelce learned from his two married parents.

Today, our culture tells us two myths. The first myth is that the path to happiness runs away from family, rather than towards it. Controversial cultural figures, like Andrew Tate or Pearl Davis, view marriage as a bad deal for men and are broadly skeptical of, in their eyes, selfish women. In a recent post on X, Davis said, “I am anti-marriage as it is today. I think it’s silly to think marriage is a good deal for most men today.” Tate agrees, saying “I don’t think many men actually benefit from marriages or relationships anymore.”

The second myth is that father-present homes are of no great importance to our kids. Harvard University’s Christina Cross in The New York Times argues that “…living apart from a biological parent does not carry the same cost for black youths as for their white peers.” Pamela Braboy Jackson in The Atlantic contends that “it’s the quality of the relationship that matters, and the handling of communication and conflict, and the number of people in the household is not really the key” for children.

Jason Kelce readily dispatched both of these myths in his retirement speech, and he’s right.

The data tell us that no group of men are happier than married fathers. Based on data from the 2022 General Social Survey, 35% of prime-aged, married men with children report being “very happy.” Barely 14% of prime-aged, unmarried men without children could report the same. The happiness premium for married fathers is significant and worth promoting. Luckily, Kelce did just that in his retirement speech.

General Social Survey, 2022. Institute for Family Studies. Men's Happiness by Marital Status and Children, Ages 18-15.,who%20do%20not%20have%20children.

The data from my new book, “Get Married,” also shows that children who grow up in intact families are much more likely to graduate from college and steer clear of trouble. In fact, 38% of young men from intact families graduate from college compared to 15% of their peers in households headed by a single mother. A greater share of women in intact families (49%) graduate from college, compared to 24% of women from households headed by a single mother. The data are clear: children raised in intact families have a far greater likelihood of graduating from college.

Source: National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997. Prison or College Graduation for Young Men and Woman, by Family Structure.

Jason Kelce’s story dovetails perfectly with the data. He is a happily married father in his prime, albeit out of his sporting prime, raising his daughters in a stable two-parent home – exemplifying the benefits of marriage and family. In other words, a good family man.

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Brad Wilcox is a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and Future of Freedom Fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, author of “Get Married: Why Americans Must Defy the Elites, Forge Strong Families, and Save Civilization.” Follow him: @BradWilcoxIFS

About the Author

W. Bradford Wilcox