February 08, 2018
If you listened to Jason Kelce's epic speech from the steps of the Art Museum during Philly's first Super Bowl parade – of course, you listened to it – you no doubt heard the Eagles center run through the list of reasons people doubted the Birds this season, including those who said Kelce was too small.
If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch it in its NSFW entirety right here:
And while it's true that Kelce (6-foot-3, 295 lbs.) is undersized for an NFL offensive lineman, that's definitely not the case when you compare him to an average person who doesn't play professional football for a living. And when it came to his colorful attire for Thursday's parade, his size actually came in handy.
Not even Chris Long's faux-fur coat and throwback Iverson jersey could top the parade's MVP, who donned a full Mummers costume, headgear and all.
So how did Kelce wind up wearing the outfit, which belongs to the Avalon String Band?
As it turns out, it's not overly complicated. Kelce knows someone who knows someone – not in the way most professional athletes "know somebody," but the way everyone from Philly knows someone who knows someone who can get them something.
For Kelce, that person was his longtime hairdresser, Liddy Coyle, who has been cutting the Eagles lineman's hair since he was drafted by the Eagles in the sixth round back in 2011. And the person she knew was, well, her husband Bobby, who also happens to be the string band's business manager.
According to the band's president, Carmen Maniaci, making that connection was the easy part. They still had to find a suit that would fit Kelce.
"We went looking for a suit [that would fit] – now, you've got to remember, there are only a handful of guys in our band that would've been that big – and the one they found was actually from 2008," Maniaci told PhillyVoice, adding that the band keeps all their costumes. "That suit he had on belonged to Jim Crompton, a.k.a. 'The Big Smooth.'
"Luckily, that suit was there, because there's only two other people whose suits might've fit him. My suit, which wasn't there, and his father's suit. Like, we're all big guys, but not like that, there so was only a handful that would've fit, and Big Smooth's suit was there. So really, we got lucky."
They also got lucky that Kelce wasn't much bigger. Had Lane Johnson or Jason Peters wanted to dress like a Mummer instead, they wouldn't have been able to.
"Height-wise, we had a couple more options," said the 22-year string band veteran. "But width-wise – I know Smooth played football in college, but he said he's bigger now than he was in his playing days. It's just amazing that we could pull it off."
Maniaci, who also happens to be the Mayor of Aldan Borough in Delaware County, believes Kelce opted to wear Mummers garb for two reasons. First, because, have you seen that outfit he was rocking? And second, because it's something unique to Philly, the place Kelce has called home since 2011 – and, after the emotion we saw from him on Thursday, may continue to call home for the foreseeable future.
Kelce has other ties to the region as well. He's getting married in April and his fiancee, Kylie, is from Narberth.
"He loves it here, and I think he wants to settle down here in the area," Maniaci said of Kelce. "And he gets it. After that speech he gave today, you can tell he gets what goes on in this city."
He also pointed out that Avalon has never won the annual competition, so the Eagles' underdog mentality that fit so well with the City of Philadelphia also fits right in with his band.
"Everyone's able to relate to the underdog thing here, so maybe we can roll that Eagles magic over into this January," he added.
So is Kelce now an honorary member of the band?
"Oh, yes. Definitely," Maniaci said. "We might have something brewing for New Years. We'll see what happens. We can't let everything out of the bag, you know what I mean?"
Avalon String Band's next performance is at the Mummers Mardi Gras in Manayunk on Sunday, February 25.
"You never know what surprises we might pull out," Maniaci teased. "That's all I'll say."
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