We take a closer look at Devin Hester’s career and if he should be enshrined in Canton one day.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame welcomed its newest class to Canton. That class included Champ Bailey, Tony Gonzalez and Ed Reed among others. With Brian Urlacher getting the nod to Canton last year, you have to ask the question who will be the next Chicago Bears player to be enshrined in Canton?
That player may be Devin Hester, but he will certainly be debated pretty thoroughly on that Saturday morning when the hall of fame voters meet.
Dan Pompeii is in the hall of fame room and is an excellent presenter. He will make a strong case for Hester just as he did for Urlacher.
There has been a shift in thought in recent years in the hall of fame room that will certainly bode well for Hester at the time of his discussion. For the longest time, the hall of fame room assumed that special teams players aren’t worth hall of fame consideration. There were no punters in the hall of fame and the only kicker in the hall of fame for the longest time was Jan Stenerud.
But in recent years, Ray Guy, considered the greatest punter in NFL history has been enshrined and Morten Andersen, the greatest retired kicker in NFL history (until Adam Vinatieri hangs up his kicking cleats), has also gotten his day in Canton.
If the hall of fame voters now think that the best of the best on special teams need their busts at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, then Devin Hester is a slam dunk to make it to Canton.
The argument against Hester has been that he was only a returner and never made a significant impact on offense. And while that’s true, his offensive contributions are irrelevant. Returner is a position on an NFL team, just like kicker and punter.
In baseball, if Edgar Martinez is in the hall of fame as a designated hitter, then it doesn’t matter that he didn’t play defense because designated hitter is, in fact, a position on a major league baseball team.
Hester is a returner and the greatest one that’s ever done it. Team’s were terrified of him. Tony Dungy defiantly said that they would kick to Hester in the Super Bowl. After Hester returned the opening kick for a touchdown, Dungy didn’t give Hester any genuine opportunities to touch the ball again.
Hester has more returns for TDs than any other player in NFL history. He topped Deion Sanders by one, but Sanders had the benefit of returning interceptions for touchdowns as well, Hester only did punts and kicks.
He led the league in punt return TDs three times, kick return TDs twice. He led the league in kick return yards twice and punt return yards twice. He led the league in punt return average twice as well, including averaging an absurd 17.1 yards per punt return in 2010.
Hester is the most terrifying returner that’s ever played at the NFL level. Teams schemed around Hester. He impacted game plans and did so more than players that have made the hall of fame.
We regularly call Vinatieri the best kicker who ever played the game and make the assumption he’s headed to Canton. Well, no one even attempts to argue against Hester as the greatest returner of all-time so is the assumption the same? If it isn’t, it should be.