Devin Hester needs the Eye of the Tiger

I was shocked when I read Vaughn McClure’s post in the Chicago Tribune’s Huddle Up blog today.  “Chicago Bears Devin Hester willing to give up punt returns, just not immediately” read the headline.  Could it be?  Is the Ridiculous One, the incomparable Devin Hester ready to step down? 

“I think a return man simply has to be a return man,” Hester said. “There’s really no other position he should go out and play. A return man is a totally different ball game from trying to be a return man and starting receiver, or the starting cornerback, or a starting safety. I don’t think it’s going to work. That’s why you never really see it last that long in the NFL. You can’t do it.  But with me right now, I feel like at punt returns there are going to be opportunities where we’re going to need big returns,” he continued. “With all the success we’ve had at the return game, it would be real crazy to just give it up now. Plus I’m looking to break this record. In the back of my mind, I’ve got to get this record before I give (punt returns) up.”

Who says players aren’t aware of records???  McClure reminds us that Devin sits only 2 returns behind record holder Brian Mitchell, tallying 11 kick returns for TD’s, not counting the electric return at the start of Super Bowl XLI or the missed FG that he returned against the Giants.  Devin goes on to say:

“Me being partially the guy last year and doing returns, it was real tough on me,” he said.  “It’s a tiring thing. You’re running eight, nine plays in a row and you’re going deep. Then you come back on punt returns, kickoff returns, and you don’t have any juice back there.  It’s a beast. You see guys show glimpses of it, but they never had a full return game. Look at Deion Sanders, a great returner, but you never saw him take over the full job as punt returner and kickoff returner. You can’t do it. Steve Smith (Carolina) came in as a great kickoff/punt returner. Now that he’s got that role at receiver, he didn’t have any juice (to return). It’s tough.”

When I was lucky enough to meet Devin at his Old Spice Youth Camp over the weekend, I asked him if he thought he needed to change his theme song, if Soulja Boy’s Crank That had lost some of the magic last season, as Devin failed to bring one back to the house for the first season in his three year career.  Devin politely declined to respond to my silly blog question and kept me on point, only answering questions about the camp.

In a weird way, this “announcement” reminds me of the scene in Rocky III, when Rocky announces that he’s going to step down as champ to the shocked and gasping crowd, only to have Clubber Lang call him out and challenge him to defend his title. 

Has Devin lost that eye of the tiger?   His quotes might suggest that he needs to get Apollo Creed (or mentor Deion Sanders in his case) and go back to the beginning, get back that hunger, that eye of the tiger.  So I’m suggesting that Devin adopt Eye of the Tiger as his new theme song to bring his return game and the Bears back to their championship ways!


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Tags: Chicago Bears Chicago Bears Blogs Deion Sanders Devin Hester Eye Of The Tiger Rocky Iii Soulja Boy

  • Matt Clapp

    I’m as big of a Devin Hester fan as you’ll find on the planet, and I’m quite fine with that. He’s lost his confidence back there and just runs backwards or fumbles half the time.

    I’m especially okay with him not returning kicks. People that are complaining about that apparently haven’t seen much of Danieal Manning.

  • boomer

    I agree Matt. Kind of what I was getting at about losing that “Eye of the Tiger” = getting tentative and losing confidence last season. It will be interesting to see if the return game changes with the new rules this upcoming season.

  • StoneHands

    This is all the fault of our failure to get a decent receiver in here over the last two years. Because of that, they had to try Hester out, since he’s the only one with some moves. The problem is, of course, that Hester blows chunks as a receiver. If this guy doesn’t make some huge progress this year (and from what I can tell of the capacity of his gray matter – he won’t), we’ll have lost one of the best return men ever, and gotten a 3rd or 4th receiver in return.

  • boomer

    Stonehands – with a name like that, are you sure you’re not a Bears receiver?!? The Bears never had an urgency to get a decent receiver b/c it would remind fans how bad our qb situation was. I’d rather have Cutler throwing to these guys than Orton/Grossman throwing to Boldin or Plax.

  • StoneHands

    My argument is that, had we had a good receiver, we could have told Devin that he was a return man – plain and simple. Then maybe he wouldn’t have lost his magical return powers – which it seems clear he has. It’s as if he won’t hit the hole at Mach 1 anymore. Like he’s saving something (or dare I say it, afraid of taking the hits). Maybe they should tell him that he’s sitting out at least the first 4 plays after every return so he knows he’ll get a little breather. It’s not like we’re losing much in the receiver corps with him out for a few Forte running plays.