Chicago Bears: Devin Hester deserved to be a first ballot Hall of Famer

Evan Bruner
Chicago Bears - Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

With the 2022 Hall of Fame class officially announced two nights ago, Chicago Bears great Devin Hester will have to wait at least another year to hear his name called. Hester can still make the Hall of Fame, and he is more than likely to eventually get in, but he won’t have the distinguished honor of getting in his first time on the ballot. Hester may not be your conventional Hall of Fame inductee, but he is every bit deserving.

Chicago Bears great, Devin Hester was snubbed from the 2022 Hall of Fame

In a sport as complicated as football, it can be hard to find a consensus greatest ever at a position. Hester is one of the few exceptions to that, and almost every football fan acknowledges him as the greatest return man in league history. He holds the all-time record in total return touchdowns and led the league multiple times in total return yardage as well as yards per return.

On top of this, there is reason to believe that Hester was capable of doing much more. He was such a force early on in his career, that teams started to kick away from him after his first two seasons. Teams would willingly sacrifice yardage from their punts by picking them out of bounds or getting maximum hang time to prevent Hester from touching the ball.

Hester was a transcendent talent, and we hadn’t seen anything like him before and won’t see anything like him again — unless maybe his son has something to say about it. There have been many great kick returners over the years, but none have come close to putting together a body of work that matches Hester’s.

Special teams players deserve spots in Canton

The one thing that stopped Hester from getting into the Hall of Fame this year was the position he played. Canton hasn’t been too friendly to specialists, and only a handful have ever been inducted, many of them having to wait several years on the ballot to get in.

This isn’t a valid reason for leaving Hester out of this year’s class. I don’t know how a sport could have a Hall of Fame meant to honor the greatest players in league history if one of the three aspects of their sports goes nearly unrecognized. It should be more challenging for special teams players to make it since they are often less valuable, but there should be exceptions.

Hester wasn’t your average kick returner, and the records and accolades support that. He changed games in a way that we hadn’t seen before. He was easily the best of his time and is considered by most to be the greatest ever for his position.

It shouldn’t be about the position you play as much as how good you were at playing it. People don’t feel comfortable voting someone into the Hall of Fame off purely kick returning because it’s never happened before. But there are always outliers and anomalies to conventional wisdom. It’s not fair to hold Hester to the same standard as previous return men because the truth is he isn’t like any return man that we’ve seen before. You can’t use precedents for an unprecedented player.

Related Story. Check out Devin Hester on the Chicago Audible podcast. light

We shouldn’t overcomplicate things. Devin Hester is the greatest kick returner of all time, and that alone makes him a Hall of Famer. That doesn’t just go for Hester either; other special teams standouts like Justin Tucker and Matthew Slater should also have a place in Canton when their time comes. Even if he has to wait another year or two before it’s official, Devin Hester has been a Hall of Famer for the Chicago Bears for years.