Devin Hester will go down as an all-time great Chicago Bear, but his defining moment as an NFL immortal went down on some grass-like stuff in a giant temperature-controlled egg of a stadium rising out the soil of northwest Georgia and not on the sub-par grass in a half-a-spaceship while the weather variances along Lake Michigan swirled among him.
There’s no saying that if Hester remained a Bear that he would have eventually came short of breaking the total return record previously held by Deion Sanders, which he did spectacularly in Atlanta’s mauling of Tampa Bay Thursday night, but it was clear over the last couple years that he wasn’t the player he could have been (or wanted to be) while seeing the Lovie Smith era crumble and helping welcome a new regime who could have cared less about his still-churning urges to play on both sides of the ball along with trying to electrify via return touches.
At a certain point, it became clear that Hester wasn’t the kind of Bear his team wanted anymore and even though fans had no reason to want him gone, we didn’t really trip over the possibility of that happening. To speak personally, last night was the first time it felt a little bitter to not see him in a Bears No. 23 anymore. I expected the moment to happen, but it didn’t feel any less bittersweet due to the anticipation.
The sweetness is key, though, and deserved, as much deserved as Hester is of having the record all to his own.
As the other machinations of his late football life play out — the scheduled reunion-as-opponent with his Chicago comrades, his final grasps at playoff glory with an Atlanta team that looks ready for another January run, the inevitable failure in doing so (we are talking about Atlanta here) … and further down the line his return to Chicago and subsequent salutes — it won’t matter how betrayed he once felt or whether or not visions of his career mortality haunted him at any time, he wound up getting the job done and looked good while doing it, even if the colors were a little bit off.
Devin Hester gets emotional talking to Deion Sanders after breaking record (SB Nation)
After breaking returns record, Devin Hester says he was unhappy with Bears (Chicago Sun-Times)
We’ll Never See Another Player Quite Like Devin Hester (Deadspin)
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