Jarrett Payton dropped a huge hint about Devin Hester (finally) getting into the NFL Hall of Fame

It may finally be happening.

Kansas City Chiefs v Chicago Bears
Kansas City Chiefs v Chicago Bears / Jonathan Daniel/GettyImages

Devin Hester's Hall of Fame candidacy has been a touchy subject in Chicago for what feels like years now. Ever since becomming eligible, Bears fans have been irate with each passing year Hester isn't elected, arguing that the iconic return man reshaped how that position was played. Hester himself has been vocal about his desire to get in – can't really blame him there – and, according to a variety of different Chicago-based reports, this year may finally be the year.

The latest news comes from local Chicago sportscaster Jarrett Payton, who probably is a good source to trust on all things Bears given, you know. On Tuesday afternoon, Payton tweeted out a report saying that all the conversations he's had about Hester with people in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl lead him to believe that this is finally the year that Hester gets his gold jacket:

He's not the only Chicago media member to report something along those lines as well. Well-known radio host David Kaplan said something along the same lines on his ESPN1000 morning show, and a few different Bears-centric blogs have picked up on the news as well. This was the third straight year that Hester was named as one of the modern era finalists; each season, 15 former players make the list. The 2024 class will be announced on Thursday, February 8th, live from Las Vegas – they'll then, of course, be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in a ceremony later this summer.

First-ballot hand-wringing aside, Hester's credentials leave little room for argument about his candidacy. In 11 seasons as a pro – the first eight of them in Chicago – Hester set numerous return game records. He's still the NFL leader in combined kick and punt return touchdowns (19), with 14 of those coming on punts. As far as awards go, won Special Teams Player of the Week awards 13 times in his career, and was named to the NFL's 2000 All-Decade team. He also has the distinction of being the only player in NFL history to score on the opening kickoff of a Super Bowl, which he did as a rookie (!) against the Colts in Super Bowl XLI.

If Hester gets elected, he'll join a class that's stacked with some of the best players from the NFL's early-aughts era. Alongside him, guys like Patrick Willis, Andre Johnson, Rodney Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Jarred Allen, Dwight Freeney, and Antonio Gates are all eligible this year. Here's to hoping that this is finally Hester's year – mostly because he deserves it, but also because Chicago's been too mad about this for too long.


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