Devin Hester will be one of the most interesting Pro Football Hall of Fame debates in a long time.
Hester is either the greatest kick returner in NFL history or on a very short list. There are very few players who rank as highly at their position without debate.
But is that enough for the Hall of Fame? Hester had almost no impact on offense or defense throughout his career, which came mostly with the Chicago Bears. There are kick returners in the Hall of Fame, but none who got there on kick return prowess alone.
Hester is confident he’ll be the first.
Devin Hester sure he’ll be in Hall of Fame
Jon Greenberg of The Athletic caught up with Hester after he was named one of the 100 greatest Bears players ever, as the team prepares to begin its 100th season. And Hester left no doubt that he expects to be in Canton someday.
“Being in HOF, I have no doubt in my mind I [will] make it,” Hester said, according to Greenberg. “I know I will. When it’s all said and done, there’s no question I will be a Hall of Famer.”
Hester doesn’t lack confidence. While he said he was happy to be named the 20th best player in Bears history, he did tell Greenberg he thought he should be a “little closer to the top 10.”
Hester was one of a kind, and with fewer returns in the game these days due to safety, it’s unlikely we’ll see another like him anytime soon.
“My play on the field speaks for itself,” Hester told The Athletic. “Everyone knows that, from the legends to the little guys coming in to the old guys. When it comes to kick returns and punt returns, I’m one of the best that ever did it.”
Hester’s résumé is strong
Hester returned 14 punts for touchdowns and five kickoffs for scores. He had another memorable kickoff return for a touchdown in a Super Bowl. Hester was a three-time All-Pro.
Beyond the résumé, Hester was absolutely thrilling. He was a threat to score anytime he fielded a kick. Special teams coaches spent all week figuring out how to keep the ball out of his hands.
Nobody would question Hester’s greatness as a returner. The only real question is whether that specialized greatness is good enough to get him in the Hall of Fame. With punter Ray Guy and kicker Morten Andersen getting into the Hall recently, it seems voters are more open to including players who were phenomenal at one specific skill. Maybe that’s why Hester is so confident.
Hester retired after the 2016 season, so there’s still time on his five-year waiting period. Then the debate will really begin.
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