We just watched the Hall of Fame celebration take place for the National Football League last weekend and it was very cool to see. Guys like Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, and Charles Woodson headlined the class this year but there is something for Chicago Bears fans to look forward to next year. Devin Hester is going to be on the ballot for the first time and it has become a popular debate around the league.
It really shouldn’t be much of a debate, however. Hester is the single greatest kick/punt returner in the history of the sport. That might make him the best player on special teams in the history of the sport. There are some kickers that may have a case for that title but that is beside the point.
In team sports, if you are the best ever at your position, you deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. When we analyze football teams to determine if they are good or bad, we look at offense, defense, and special teams. It is very important to be good in that area and Hester made the Bears elite.
Hester’s ability to return kicks for yards and even touchdowns were the strength of his game. He used incredible speed and agility to do that throughout his regular-season career. In his NFL tenure, he had 14 punt returns, five kickoff returns, and one returned missed field goal for a total of 20 special teams touchdowns. Those numbers are insane when you truly think about them.
Devin Hester was one of the most valuable Chicago Bears players for a long time.
Hester wasn’t only a valuable return man on scoring plays either. He often put the Bears in really good field position when he wasn’t bringing it to the endzone. He was incredibly valuable to have on that side of the ball for so many years. He spent 8 years with the Bears and then had two with the Atlanta Falcons followed by a split season with the Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens. All but one of his return touchdowns came with Chicago.
Hester did play a little bit of wide receiver throughout his career as well. Some coaches thought his return magic could translate to being a wide receiver but it just never happened. He was actually drafted as a defensive back too which is the crazy part. He wasn’t great at anything other than returning kicks or punts but he was the best ever at that.
The highlight of Hester’s career actually came in the playoffs. Not only was it the playoffs, but the Super Bowl. All week leading up to Super Bowl XLI, the Indianapolis Colts claimed that they wouldn’t kick to Devin Hester. They ended up doing it anyway and he made them pay by returning the opening kick-off.
Unfortunately, the Bears ended up losing that game anyway but it was one of the most exciting moments in franchise history. Hester was there to provide a lot of those moments to Bears fans. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for being the best to ever do it at that position.