Devin Hester is the greatest kick returner in the history of the NFL. He is not a professional caliber cornerback. He is not a professional caliber wide receiver. He is a returner of punts and kickoffs and nobody has done either better. Hester, to the best of my knowledge, is the first player in sports history not content with being the greatest ever at his position.
Nope, Devin Hester wants a change of scenery. He wants to change the scenery. Many of you may not know this but I make my living writing for the professional theatre so I am quite familiar with scenery changes. Scenery is changed during the course of a play to alter the audience's perception of time and space. It is not changed because an actor/performer is, well, no longer having fun with a particular tree or house-painted flat or stone (if this were a minimalist production of Waiting for Godot). It is not changed because an actor/performer no longer feels comfortable with the present scenery.
Devin Hester does not want a change of the scenery. Hester wants to leave a scene-stealing role in a classical play at an elite Chicago theatre (let's say Polonious in a well-received Hamlet at the Goodman) for a more prominent role in a lesser production elsewhere (say Mercutio in the Kansas City Rep production of Romeo & Juliet). He is not comfortable blaming his struggles in 2012 on himself - even though his former coordinator Dave Toub was quite comfortable with that scenario. Hester is blaming, what else, the city of Chicago.
And might I add one more point. And I say this having had the pleasure of interviewing Devin Hester on my podcast and genuinely enjoying that interaction. How dare you, Devin? How about some gratitude to the Chicago Bears organization for mistakenly attempting to appease you these last few years and find a successful role outside of special teams? How about some loyalty to a fan base that has cheered your every return and forgiven your every return mistake for the duration of your career? I know professional athletes are some of the most selfish individuals on the planet but could Hester truly be so willing to leave those thousands of #23 jerseys on the Lake Front behind for a chance to catch a few passes in 2013 from Mark Sanchez or Brandon Weeden on gimmick plays?
Regardless of Hester's blind selfishness, the Chicago Bears organization should not even consider letting him leave town.
GM Phil Emery and head coach Marc Trestman (as well as new special teams coordinator Joe D) should be on the phone with Hester before the start of the free agency period. The Skunk may no longer be returning kicks for touchdowns at the alarming rate he did a few years ago but there are still only a handful of return men in the sport that belong in his conversation. He still possesses the ability to score on every return. He still frightens opposing coaches.
Hester does not need to be abandoned by the Chicago Bears right now. He needs to be recommitted to. And while I'm not pleased with his comments I have too much respect for his past achievements to close the door on a legend. If I'm on the Chicago Bears...that success is not leaving town.