March 09, 2022
Fans who will be at the Wells Fargo Center on March 14 to see the Sixers play the Denver Nuggets will get to hear an Eagles legend sing the national anthem.
Jason Kelce will perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Monday's game in South Philly, the All-Pro center said during an appearance on SportsRadio 94WIP on Wednesday. Kelce was a guest host filling in for Angelo Cataldi on WIP's morning show.
"I'm hesitant to say the word sing unless (the Sixers are) gonna put up auto-tune for me," Kelce said. "I'm hoping that the crowd joins in with me."
Kelce's forthcoming performance came to fruition through a fundraising effort led by former Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin and his Make The World Better foundation.
Barwin's charity laid out a fundraising incentive for potential donors: Raise at least $100,000 by the end of 2021 and Kelce will perform the national anthem at a Sixers game.
Philadelphia residents and sports fans came through. The organization raised more than $114,000 by the end of last year, meaning Kelce would have to break out his voice for the Philly faithful to hear.
Kelce said he wants Sixers fans to join in on the performance.
"I would love to make this national anthem something that is sung collectively because that's why the goal was met," Kelce said. "It was met because of all the fans at this game, people that help support not just Connor's foundation but all the charitable work and things that happen in our community."
Kelce said he's done no preparation for his upcoming performance and warned fans about what they might hear.
"I'm hoping it's in a key that doesn't have many high notes," Kelce said. "Maybe I can bring it down. I'm at a bad register. I'm kind of in between a baritone and a tenor. Usually when it goes high, I just scream louder and that tends to work better."
Barwin, who now works as a special assistant in the Eagles front office, founded Make The World Better in 2013 to help redevelop parks and public spaces around the city. The organization merged with local nonprofit Urban Roots in 2018 to collaborate on both charities' goals of creating safe community spaces for gathering and playing.
Among Make The World Better's notable community projects include Ralph Brooks Park in Point Breeze, Smith Playground in South Philly, Waterloo Playground in West Kensington and Vare Recreation Center in Grays Ferry.
Kelce is the latest in a series of mystery guests filling in for Cataldi on Wednesday mornings from 7-10 a.m. this month. Last week's guest host was Eagles radio play-by-play man Merrill Reese. Cataldi is retiring at the end of 2022 after 33 years on the air.
Jon Johnson, Al Morganti and Rhea Hughes appeared alongside Kelce and the show included plenty of talk about the Eagles and Sixers. Perhaps most notable was the first question Kelce was asked: Will he return to the Birds for a 12th season in 2022?
Kelce, 34, said that a decision hasn't been made yet, and that his overall health and family will factor into whether he comes back.
"I’m playing until I’m not," Kelce said. "I’m an active player for the Philadelphia Eagles right now. I love my teammates. I love playing in the city. When it’s time to step away, I’ll make that abundantly clear. I don’t want to announce anything on the radio and I kind of feel like everything is trending in a certain direction. But I’m going to make that clear to my teammates and coaches and everything like that first."