Chicago Bears All-Decade Team: 2000s
Devin Hester PR/KR
Oct 20, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Devin Hester (23) runs with the ball past Washington Redskins defensive back Jose Gumbs (48) to make a touchdown in the second quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Ahh, the Windy City Flyer. Hester took the NFL world by storm in his rookie year of 2006 and none of us as Bears fans were ever the same. He was must-see TV and the excitement generated every time he was waiting under a kick was palpable. Each time we hoped the punter or kicker would make the mistake of giving him something to return, and when they did it seemed Hester so often made them pay.
From 2006-2007 Hester scored a remarkable seven TDs on punt returns and four more TDs on kick returns. He also had that 108-yard return of a missed field goal and returned the opening kick of Super Bowl XLI for a TD, making it a total of 13 return TDs in his first two years. Jeff Joniak said it best, Devin Hester — you are REE-diculous.
Aug 28, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould (9) t FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Robbie Gould, K
The honor of being the only current player named to my 2000s All-Decade Team goes to Robbie Gould. This was a two-horse race between Robbie Gould and Paul Edinger and they conveniently split the decade right down the middle for me.
While I figured I would choose Gould with little hesitation, the numbers are interesting to compare.
From 2000-2004 Edinger made 110 of 146 field goals (75.3%), made all 133 of his extra points and went 13 of 19 on attempts of 50 yards or greater. Gould in 2005-2009 was 134/156 on his FGs (85.9%), made 173 of 174 XPs but only made two of five attempts from beyond 50 yards.
Gould was more accurate and prolific overall, but Edinger was interestingly more effective from downtown during the 2000s. They all count for three points anyway, right? So Gould gets the nod, but Edinger easily claims the best kicker wind-up award.
Patrick Mannelly, LS
Dec 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Chicago Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly (65) against the Minnesota Vikings at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. The Vikings defeated the Bears 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
A mainstay for the entire decade and a Bears legend in his own right, Patrick Mannelly will be handling the long-snapping duties on this all-decade team. Among a handful of obvious picks for this team, Mannelly plays at a somewhat unsung position but his value as a special teams contributor can not be overstated.
When he officially retired in June 2014 after 16 years with the Bears, Mannelly did so as the longest tenured player in team history.
Brad Maynard, P
We need a punter on the team, right? Brad Maynard spent his first four years in the league with the New York Giants before joining the Bears in 2001. He spent the rest of the decade with the team, so his selection here was also a given.
Aside from punting and holding duties, Maynard was also adept at the occasional trick play. You may recall he threw a TD pass to a certain MLB who wears #54 on a fake field goal against the Redskins in 2001. For his career with the Bears Maynard completed 5 of 7 passes for 94 yards and two TDs. If Rex falters, we’ll put him under center.
Next: All-2000s Defensive Line