Devin Hester honored to get into Hall of Fame, represent Chicago
David Banks - USA Today Sports

Devin Hester honored to get into Hall of Fame, represent Chicago

by - Correspondent -

LAS VEGAS, NV - It finally happened. Legendary kick returner Devin Hester is finally in the Hall of Fame. He was a finalist each of his first three years of eligibility before getting in this year. Hester is the first kick returner to enter the Hall of Fame. Still, it served as quite the surprise to Hester and Bears fans that he was not a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

“Honestly, I thought I was going to be a first-ballot. I really did from my work on the field and the accomplishments that I’ve made (in the) NFL. I really thought I was first-ballot. But at the end of the day, I’m just blessed and honored to be the first returner. It’s hard to say who’s number one quarterback, who’s number two running, who’s the number one defensive player,” Hester said. “But, in the situation I’m in right now, I can honestly say that right now, I am the number one returner of all time and it’s a great honor and I hope that, God bless, allow me to open up the doors for the rest of the returners and not only returners, but as special teams players as well to get an opportunity now to really, really get looked at as a special teams player and do have the feeling that they deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.”

Hester changed the game forever. While player safety was the official reason cited for their kick return rule change, it is commonly believed that an underlying intention of this move was to stop Hester from being such a threat to NFL teams. That did not work as he continued to put up monster numbers as a punt and kick returner.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2024 includes more than just Hester, however. For Chicago, they also got to see defensive tackle Steve “Mongo” McMichael and defensive end and linebacker Julius Peppers go into the Hall of Fame. With these three, the Bears now have 39 Hall of Famers, the most of any NFL team. The next closest team is the Green Bay Packers with 34 Hall of Famers.

“That’s the huge elite. I mean, to have 39 Hall of (Famers). It’s a great honor not only to make the Hall of Fame, but to represent the city of Chicago,” Hester said. “The city of Chicago is one of the cities I would say out of the four years that I played for different teams, the one city I can say was really, really truly a football city. They love football and it was die-hard football fans regardless of win or lose. The stadium is always packed and that’s one thing I can say about the city of Chicago. I’m just blessed to be honored to be a part of 39.”

Chicago truly is a football town, with 13 Pro Football Hall of Famers born in the city of Chicago, the most out of any other city in the world. But they have not had another player quite like Hester and surely, they never will again because there is only one Devin Hester. Hester described how as a rookie, he used to look at the names and faces of all of the Chicago greats; now, he is one of those faces.

“My rookie year going into the facility at Halas Hall and to walk through the facility and see all the pictures of those guys, the great athletes that (played for) Chicago,” Hester said. “To see those guys and to see their jerseys and their names all throughout the facility and now knowing that it’s possible that my name, my jersey can and my pictures could be showcased around the facility is just a great honor.”

He is truly one of the greats of this league and it is about time that he was inducted into the Hall. Hopefully, this will allow the league to see special teams players in a new light, truly realizing how valuable they are to the league despite the continuing rule changes limiting the kick return.

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