Justin Dukes is a contributor to WARR.com
With months of speculations following Seattle Seahawks wide receiver and return specialist Devin Hester expressing his intentions to retire from the game of football, his words were made official this past Tuesday.
While being a valued commodity around the league, playing for teams such as the Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks and Atlanta Falcons, Hester made his name in the city of Chicago as a Bear.
With three of his four pro bowl appearances and all three of his all-pro selections taking place while donning a Bears uniform, Hester was definitely one of the most electrifying talents in the windy city.
To a variety of fans I’ve spoken to, Hester was easily one of their favorite players who feel his next football related activity will be jogging up the steps of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
While the Bears for years have been known as a franchise that took immense pride in their defense, Hester’s unique ability as a punt returner would always divert that special spotlight to special teams. “Don’t kick to Hester” was always a constant phrase used by opponents and analysts that knew how big of a threat Hester posed in these situations.
“To all the Bears fans, you brought me in and made a Florida boy feel at home in the Midwest from Day 1.” said Hester in a farewell letter penned to his fans.
“I grew into a man, built a family, and became who I am today in the city of Chicago. I’ll always remember the noise y’all made whenever I hit open turf at Soldier – never heard anything quite like it.”
Closing his letter stating how he hopes to be seeing fans heading into the hall of fame, the question should be asked if that closing remark will some day be a reality.
“100 percent,” former Bear Brian Urlacher said to ESPN on Hester being worthy of the hall of fame. “He’s the best ever at his position and changed the game plan for every special-teams coach he played against.”
With Urlacher himself standing as a semi-finalist for the hall of fame, it would be great to see two players who represented for this city for years receiving their due.
While there is a somewhat fickle and arbitrary process in inducting specialists into the hall of fame, in my eyes Hester gets in.
Aside from the most return touchdowns in NFL history, Hester was also a very good receiver despite on occasion raising some of our frustration levels catching the ball on the move. In addition to his abilities as a receiver, Hester has longevity and the backings from every locker room he’s been in to put him over the top.
“Yes, he should be in the Hall of Fame,” former Falcons wide receiver Roddy White said to ESPN. “Dev’s one of the best teammates I have had and been around. He’s a scoreboard changer. He’s a great dad, and he stays in the community helping kids.
Now what ballot Hester gets in will be a different argument. My assumption is second ballot because of how specialists are viewed, but I would not contest him getting in on the first.
Thinking back to Hester’s return on the opening kick of Super Bowl XLI his rookie year, or the six returned touchdowns in one season, and many more countless moments, those with an experience of Hester’s talents can see why he should get into the Hall of Fame.
However until that day comes, we should take solace in Hester being able to leave the game on his own terms. With one of the most elite skillsets we’ve seen, he’ll have his day in due time.