The most electric player in Bears history, legendary return man Devin Hester announced his retirement earlier today. Hester was a free agent this season, following a stint with both the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks in 2016.
Hester was drafted by the Bears out of the University of Miami in 2006. Selected in the second round, Hester managed seven return touchdowns in his rookie year. Hester was actually drafted as a cornerback out of college, which is why he wore number 23 instead of a traditional wide receiver number.
Most notably, Hester capped off his rookie season with a kickoff return touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts to kick off Super Bowl XLI back home in Miami. While the Bears didn’t win that game, that moment is still one of the most memorable in the history of the big game.
Hester is partially responsible for one of the most famous clips of all time, as his return touchdown won the Bears a game over the Cardinals in 2006. This Bears comeback victory led to the famous “they are who we thought they were” rant from the late Dennis Green, who was the Cardinals coach at the time.
Only ten players in the history of the league have ever returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same year. Hester is one of them, as he accomplished the feat against the St. Louis Rams in 2006. On top of that, Hester also set the record for the longest play in NFL history his rookie year, with a 108-yard field goal return against the New York Giants. This record has since been broken.
Hester amassed 20 return touchdowns throughout his decade-long NFL career, 19 of which came in a Bears uniform.
Hester played in the orange and navy blue for eight seasons before leaving as a free agent following the 2013 season. In those eight seasons, Hester had 32 total touchdowns, including 14 in the passing game.
Hester broke Deion Sanders’ record for most non-offensive touchdowns in history as a member of the Atlanta Falcons in 2014. He broke that record on a 62-yard punt return off the leg of Saints punter Thomas Morstead.
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Hester is undoubtedly the greatest punt returner in the history of football, and thus will likely be seeing his bust enshrined in Canton sometime soon. He will first be eligible for induction on the 2023 ballot.
To quote Jeff Joniak, “Devin Hester, You. Are. Ridiculous.” Best of luck in your retirement, Devin!