New York News
Haters say Philadelphia is a city of losers. Real ones know it’s a city of hopefuls who always, endearingly, believe the next win is possible, even if victory is rare. Perhaps that unrelenting optimism and underdog spirit explain why so many iconic sports movies take place in Philly. Ask any non-Philadelphian to name a movie related to the City of Brotherly Love, and they will undoubtedly name the legendary boxing movie Rocky, or, depending on how young they are, maybe Ryan Coogler’s 2015 hit spinoff Creed. There are also football flicks, like the Mark Wahlberg–led Disney biopic Invincible, or the Oscar-winning mental-health-centered romance Silver Linings Playbook. In 2022, Adam Sandler took a turn as an NBA scout for the 76ers in Hustle. There are even some top-tier wrestling flicks, like the star-studded Foxcatcher, which was nominated for five Academy Awards.
But, as a proud Philly native, I must say that a new documentary about one of the city’s most adored football players takes home the prize as the most Philly sports movie ever. Kelce, streaming on Amazon Prime Video, follows Jason Kelce, the 13-year NFL veteran, center for the Philadelphia Eagles, dad of three girls, and older brother to the best tight end in the league, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce. The film opens at the beginning of last year’s NFL season; what was likely intended as a record of a beloved football player’s final run morphed into something much more when the Eagles surprisingly went on an eight-game winning streak and had a final divisional record of 14–3, sending them to the Super Bowl four years after their historic first Super Bowl win in 2018. And then, a documentarian’s miracle: It turned out that the Eagles would be playing the Chiefs in the big championship—for the first time in NFL history, two brothers would face off on sports’ biggest night, a momentous event that earned the moniker “the Kelce Bowl.”
Kelce is so compelling, in part, because it asks a vital question: Is football worth the price that its players, especially the most dedicated ones, must pay? For a time, it seems that the answer might be no. Kelce, recounting the toll that the sport has taken on him—at least seven surgeries, fear of a chronic traumatic encephalopathy diagnosis from repeated head injuries, and a body that can neither play without anti-inflammatory medication nor comfortably