#FeedonThis: Jarrett Payton reflects on the career of Devin Hester

Lynette Rowe
December 13, 2017

Devin Hester announced his retirement on Tuesday, putting an official end to the greatest career a return man has ever had in National Football League history.

"I'll always remember the noise y'all made whenever I hit open turf at Soldier [Field] - never heard anything quite like it", Hester wrote. Bad news: Y'all will have to find a new favorite returner.

Hester returned 13 punts and five kickoffs for touchdowns from 2006 to 2013 with the Bears, perhaps none as electrifying as the Super Bowl run-back.

Since this is his official retirement announcement, Hester will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in Canton five years from now.

Chicago took him in the second round (57th overall) out of Miami, and at the end of his rookie season, he took the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl 92 yards for a touchdown against Indianapolis, though the Colts won the game. And with voters limited in how many players they may vote for and the process that whittles down the list of candidates to semifinalists and then finalists, Hester may be waiting a little bit to get the phone call he deserves to have made. He finished his career with 16 receiving touchdowns.

- One of 10 players to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in a single game (Dec. 11, 2006 against the St. Louis Rams).

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As recently as 2014 with Atlanta he led the league with 1,128 kickoff return yards.

"I told my wife it's pretty much my past year", he said after returning five kickoffs and a punt during that January 14 playoff game.

But Hester is the only player in NFL history who you could honestly believe that any football he was able to field had a chance to go the distance.

"We had decided all week that we were not going to kick the ball to Devin Hester", Dungy said on the show.

The city of Chicago stopped when teams dared kick to Hester. The Bears started to use him as a wide receiver that season and gave him a four-year contract extension in the offseason. Hester should be more likely to put on a gold jacket like past star returners like Sanders (Class of 2011) and Rod Woodson (2009). That's a Hall of Fame career in itself.

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