All told, 13 teams will have the distinct pleasure of being the next franchise to potentially help Devin Hester set an NFL record. Or two.
Hester already holds the all-time League record for combined kick returns for touchdown with 17. The former record holder, Brian Mitchell, took 14 seasons to earn the previous record of 13 combined punt and kickoff returns.
Hester has blown by it in just six.
Hester’s 12 career punt returns for TD are the most ever in the NFL by two, and his five career kickoff returns for TD are tied for fourth all-time. So while he has a few to go to be the all-time kickoff leader, there’s still a second record he can set every time he lines up to return.
Hester has a total of 18 all-around return touchdowns—one coming off a missed field goal—which is one shy Deion Sanders’ record of 19 in the same category.
And Hester knows it.
“I’m not going to sit here and say it doesn’t [cross my mind],” Hester told the media this week. “It’s just one more record I can accomplish.”
Among Hester’s other accolades is his opening kickoff return for touchdown to start Super Bowl XLI—also versus the Colts. He remains the only player to have ever done it. He also currently leads the NFL in punt return average (17.3 yards).
As hinted above, Hester’s records are made even more impressive because of the relatively short period of time it’s taken him to achieve them.
Consider the fact that he went through a near two season slump; consider the extent teams go to avoid him on gameday; and finally, consider the new NFL kickoff rules, and one begins to understand why Devin Hester is truly ridiculous.
And he’s not done yet. Not by a longshot.
“I have a lot more years in me,” Hester said. “So I’m hoping I can get [Sanders’] record as soon as possible so that question and that thought can erase in my mind, and I can go ahead and continue to play ball.”
The first team to give Hester a crack at that record will be the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday.
“You’d like to say we don’t have to punt, but I’m afraid that’s probably not going to happen,” Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano said. “We’re going to have to kick off to the guy. We’re going to have to punt to the guy.
“He’s arguably one of the best, if not the best, in the history of the game at returning kicks. We’ve just got to do a great job of containing him and trying to keep him corralled and make sure he doesn’t get loose for a big play.”
How many times has Devin heard a team say that? Enough to put a big smile on his face, that’s for sure.