Former Eagles tight end Brent Celek announced his retirement in a letter to Eagles fans on the team website Friday.
Celek, 33, played 11 seasons for the Eagles before he was released in March. He leaves the NFL after winning a Super Bowl for his adopted home, where his career will be remembered for his toughness and durability.
"Though I know I'm still capable of playing football at a high level, and though I had offers to continue my NFL career, my heart told me that this was the time," Celek wrote. "The bottom line was this: When I thought long and hard about the prospect of putting on another uniform, it just seemed wrong. In the end, I couldn't do it. My career began, and ended, with the Philadelphia Eagles — and man, did we go out in style."
Celek joined the Eagles in 2007 as a fifth-round draft pick and finished with 398 receptions, which rank fourth in Eagles history. He had 4,998 yards and 31 touchdowns. He missed only one game in 11 seasons and played 175 games in an Eagles uniform, which also ranks fourth on the team's all-time list.
His best season came in 2009, when he had 76 catches for 971 yards and eight touchdowns. He transitioned into mostly a blocking tight end in recent seasons and was a respected leader on the first Eagles team to win the Super Bowl.
"Brent Celek embodies everything it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle," owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. "He will obviously be remembered as one of the most accomplished tight ends in Eagles history, but his impact on our franchise goes far beyond the statistics he compiled over the course of his career. Brent was one of the toughest, smartest, and most selfless players who has ever stepped on the field for us.
"He led by example not just in the way he played the game, but also in how he prepared and the way he carried himself around the building and in the community. He was genuine, honest and accountable and he always represented the organization with class. He gave everything he had to the team. No matter what he was asked to do, Brent always embraced his role in a way that set a wonderful example for his teammates and young athletes everywhere.
"It was a pleasure watching him grow into the player and man that he became. There is nobody more deserving to finish his career as a Super Bowl Champion. We are excited for him and his family as they embark on the next stage of their lives. Our doors are always open to Brent, and he will be an Eagle forever."
Celek was the longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia before the Eagles released him. After the Eagles won the Super Bowl, he kept talking about how he couldn't wait to return to Philadelphia to celebrate. He wore a Harold Carmichael jersey to the Eagles parade and was one of the players chosen to speak.
"It was legendary, and yes, the aftermath was amaaaaaaaazing," Celek wrote. "Being a part of that parade was so special. To see all the fans crying with joy and then to see [center Jason] Kelce deliver an epic speech that summed it all up. It was a perfect ending to a perfect season."
In his letter, Celek described his journey to the Eagles and thanked teammates, coaches, and staff members throughout the years. He closed by thanking the Philadelphia fans. Celek plans to stay in the city and transition to a career in real estate.