Bears return man Devin Hester pondering retirement after Lovie Smith’s firing

Maggie Hendricks
Shutdown Corner

Several Chicago Bears players were upset about Lovie Smith being fired from the team after nine years. Smith was the only person to coach Devin Hester, the wide receiver/return man who is capable of electrifying returns but struggled in 2012. Hester was so distraught that he said he's considering retirement.

"I don't even know if I want to play again," Hester said. "That's been something on my mind for two years. It's not (much fun for me anymore). I've got my workers comp papers in my pocket. We'll see how I feel. I'm going to go home and talk to my wife and talk to my family and see where we go from there. I got two beautiful kids, man, two boys. A lot of stress has been on my mind lately."

Hester is 30 years old and has a year left on his contract. Though he went to the Pro Bowl as a return man after the 2011 season, Hester didn't score a single return touchdown in 2012. His punt return average has fallen sharply in 2012. He also had a hard time finding a spot in the Bears' offense with Brandon Marshall as the no. 1 receiver. He was targeted 40 times in 2012, and caught 23 passes for 242 yards and one touchdown.

It's not surprising to hear Hester and other Bears' players upset that Smith will no longer be their coach. ESPN's Kevin Seifert described Smith as a "hands-off disciplinarian" who looked for self-motivated players. Marshall said "guys would run through a wall for Smith."

But what players didn't do for Smith was win when the stakes were high. In the past two seasons, the Bears started hot, and then fizzled out to miss the playoffs. With a new general manager in Phil Emery and Smith's contract expiring after next season, the Bears needed to perform. Instead, they went from 7-1 to 10-6 and missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six years.

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