Bears News: Devin Hester denied Hall of Fame for second straight year
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Bears News: Devin Hester denied Hall of Fame for second straight year

by - Correspondent -

This week at the NFL Honors, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2023 was announced and for the second straight year, it did not include legendary kick returner Devin Hester.

Hester played in the NFL for 11 seasons. He was drafted by the Bears in the second round (No. 57 overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft. His rookie season started his historic career, with 47 punt returns for 600 yards and three touchdowns. He added another two touchdowns on kick returns. That season, and next season in 2007, he was selected to the Pro Bowl and was named a first-team All-Pro. It was not until 2010 that Hester would return to the Pro Bowl when he averaged a career-high of 17.1 yards per punt return, as well as a career-high in kick return yards of 35.6. Again, Hester was named a first-team All-Pro. The following season in 2011, he was named a second-team All-Pro. In his final season with Chicago in 2013, he had a career high in kick returns (52) and kick return yards (1,436), but was not selected to the Pro Bowl. He was let go following that season and went to the Atlanta Falcons as a wide receiver and kick returner.

In that first season with the Falcons, he made the Pro-Bowl as a kick returner. Hester had a total of 45 kick returns for 1,128 yards. He played for Atlanta in 2015 before being let go. In 2016, we spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and then the Seattle Seahawks. He did not play again after his time with Seattle. But, in April of 2018 he signed a one-day contract with the Bears and the next day, officially retired as a Chicago Bear. Still, since he had not played since 2016, his eligibility for the Hall of Fame started in the class of 2022. During his career, he did make the Hall of Fame All-2000s team, as well as the Hall of Fame All-2010s team.

Undeniably, Hester changed the game from the kick returner position as he led the NFL in non-offensive touchdowns in 2006, 2007, 2010, and holds the all-time record with 20. Further, he holds the all-time record for punts returned for touchdowns with 14. Hester led the NFL in kick returns in 2013 and 2014, as well as punt returns in 2006. He led the NFL in so many categories and ranks in the top-10 all-time in almost every single measure for a kick returner or punt returner. The fact that he is a legendary player and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame is undeniable.

To be honest, there is probably only one reason that Hester is not in the Hall of Fame - he primarily played special teams. There are only four kickers in the Hall of Fame and only three other players who were special teams players. Tim Brown from the Raiders is the only player in the Hall of Fame as a wide receiver, as well as a kick returner and punt returner. But, he played a lot more as a wide receiver compared to Hester, which is probably why Brown made it in. Still, Brown had to wait five years after he was first eligible for the Hall of Fame to be inducted. This perhaps shows a trend in the Hall of Fame in general, not just specifically with Hester, that special teams players are underappreciated.

There is always next year from Hester to get into the Hall of Fame, especially since he has been named a finalist the past two seasons. Still, it is an undeniable fact that he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and he should have gotten in last year, and most certainly this year.

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