An ode to the greatest returner of all-time Devin Hester

An ode to the greatest returner of all-time Devin Hester
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a touchdown catch against the New York Jets at Soldier Field on December 26, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Jets 38-34. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Super Bowl 41 in Miami, Florida. That was the scene of the biggest moment of Devin Hester’s 11-year NFL career.

The Riviera Beach native took back the opening kickoff of that Super Bowl against the Indianapolis Colts in the same city that he turned heads at the University of Miami.

A 92-yard kickoff score wasn’t enough for the Bears to beat future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and company, but it was the greatest play of Hester’s career and one of the top moments in franchise history.

On Tuesday, the former 2006 second round pick to Twitter to officially announce his retirement from the NFL (LINK). He hadn’t played since latching on with Seattle late last season, so this move isn’t a big surprise at age 35.

Hester totaled an NFL all-time best 20 regular season return touchdowns from 2006-16. In eight seasons with the Bears, he had 19 total return scores including 13 punt returns, five kick returns and one missed field goal. He would go on to play for Atlanta, Baltimore and Seattle from 2014-2016, adding one more return touchdown.

His rookie season was just the start as he had five return touchdowns. Hester topped that a year later , 2007, with six return scores.

This will always be my favorite Devin Hester return touchdown, an 82-yard punt return for six in the Monday Night Miracle against Arizona during his rookie season.

The Super Bowl opening kickoff return was pretty fun to watch to.

Current Bears special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers wasn’t in charge of the team when Hester was in town, but he has the utmost respect for No. 23.

“He’s the best that’s ever done it. You’re holding your breath (going against him),” Rodgers told the Bears website writer Larry Mayer on Wednesday. “There’s been nobody like him in my generation.”

When you think of Hester, you envision speed, elite cutting ability and just overall electric play.

Bears announcer Jeff Joniak made the phrase “Devin Hester you are ridiculous” famous. Hopefully, if Hester earns a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Joniak can be there to introduce him.

A religious, quiet and down to earth person, Hester is one of the best pure scorers in team history. Every time he touched the ball, it made football exciting to watch.

Hester ranks 14th overall in Bears history with 34 total touchdowns which include 14 receiving scores as well. Originally a cornerback as a rookie, Hester switched to wide receiver and was thrust into the starting lineup for a few seasons, hampering his special teams value.

Regardless, Hester is a Hall of Famer in my opinion. He changed the game and changed the kickoff rule simply because he was that good. The kickoff rule was largely altered due to safety reasons, but Hester is a different species when it comes to returning kickoffs or punts.

As a 15-year-old fan of the Bears in 2006, I simply was all about the hype that was surrounding Devin Hester. Two years later, I started this site Bears Backer and I transitioned from a young adult/fan to a writer of the team and critic.

Hester will always be one of the best in my eyes and I was lucky enough to be able to watch his entire career from start to finish.

Bears rookie running back/returner Tarik Cohen has some Hester instilled in him, but there will never be a player quite like Hester in terms overall playmaking ability and creativeness.

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Filed under: Bears News

Tags: Bears, Chicago, Devin Hester, NFL

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