Joseph O’Pella was the Philadelphia Eagles‘ trainer throughout Jason Kelce’s entire career, and the two formed a special bond.

Being the center, Kelce was constantly taped up, notably his fingers and ankles, in what became an iconic look in Philadelphia.

O’Pella has been battling cancer, and treatments have kept him away from the team, but Kelce wanted to make him feel right at home.

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“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 real services to help my wife and I 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,” O’Pella wrote in an Instagram post. “That’s who he is as a person.”

However, that was the least Kelce could do. 

One of those days O’Pella was “too sick to come in” was the wild card round against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It turned out to be Kelce’s final game, as the Birds lost 32-9 to the Bucs and were eliminated from the playoffs.

That meant O’Pella, who “taped this guy’s ankles and thumbs every day for 13 years,” was not able to treat Kelce like he had a bunch of other game days.

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“When he told me he would be retiring and I expressed my regret of not being the last person to ever tape him,” O’Pella wrote.

However, Kelce would not let that be the case.

“He offered to have me tape him for his retirement press conference,” O’Pella wrote. 

“That’s who he is. And I hope these stories can add to an already unbelievable legacy.”

He played in 193 games in his NFL career, the second most in team history. He made 156 consecutive starts – a franchise record. In his 13 NFL seasons, he was a seven-time Pro Bowler and six-time All-Pro selection, winning Super Bowl LII.

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