Whether it is his return touchdown in the first 14 seconds of Superbowl XLI against the Indianapolis Colts, or his 83 yard punt return for a touchdown on Monday Night Football vs the Arizona Cardinals, or his 94 yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams or other great plays, Devin Hester, the Chicago Bears’ return specialist will not only be remembered as a Chicago Bears legend, but a Chicago sports one as well. In a somewhat surprising move though, the team announced on Thursday morning that he won’t be back.
“For the past eight seasons, we have been honored to have Devin Hester as part of our organization,” GM, Phil Emery said.” While Devin has redefined the pinnacle standard of the return position in the NFL, the memories and contributions he has given us cannot be treasured by stats or numbers. Not only is Devin a special player, he is also an exceptional person. He is a great teammate, husband, and father. Devin represented the organization off the field as well as he did on it. When his career is over, he will always be a welcome member of the Bears family. We thank him for his dedication and wish him and his family all the best.”
Hester was picked by the Bears in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami. His 19 career return touchdowns are tied for the NFL record with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. Last season though, he returned just 18 punts with one being a touchdown. Maybe his skills have declined somewhat, or teams have gotten smart by kicking to someone else, or just kicking it into the end zone.
He went on his facebook page on Thursday evening and was very classy, “To all my Chicago people……I can’t thank you all enough for my time in Chicago. I’ve always said I wanted to retire a Chicago Bear but sometimes things don’t work out the way we would like. Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart and if I am fortunate enough to break the record, we will have all broken it together……no matter where I am. Thank you again and God bless.”
No matter where he ends up next season whether it’s in Tampa Bay with his old coach, Lovie Smith, or somewhere else, Hester will always be a Chicago Bear, and never forgotten.