Is Devin Hester the Greatest Returner Ever?

Why does anyone kick the ball to Devin Hester anymore?  He’s quite possibly the greatest returner in the history of the game.  He has torched more defenses and made more men look silly trying to tackle him than anyone since Gale Sayers.  Sayers' career was cut short but Hester's career has just begun, and he is already in the record books with the most return touchdowns for a career. His three touchdowns throughout the first six games propelled him into number one on the all-time list ahead of Gale Sayers, Dante Hall, and everyone else who has ever returned a kick in the history of the NFL.

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Hester returned a combination of five kicks and punts last year for touchdowns. He also returned a missed field goal for an NFL record 108 yards, tying his teammate Nathan Vasher for the longest play in NFL history.  Devin Hester is only in the first half of his second NFL season, and he already is rewriting the NFL record books.  Does it get any better?  He is the Bears' home run threat every time he can get his hands on the ball.

Being the threat that he is, the Bears had Hester switch from defensive back to wide receiver in the off season.  He has already proven dangerous in the position, catching a long 81 yard strike against the Minnesota Vikings.  The Bears have plans to use him on offense in the slot as a receiver, as a wide out, and in the backfield as a running back–although most of the season so far his main role on offense has been that of a decoy.  When Hester walks onto the field, it's like a movie star walking into Starbucks.  Everyone is calling out his name or his jersey number; he is the most dangerous man in the game.

While squib kicking or directional kicking is dangerous and can give up a lot of field position, if I was coaching, I would much rather play defense against a short field than chase number 23 into my own end zone, prompting the question–why does anybody still kick the ball to Devin Hester?

By T. Lloyd, 20Yardline.com
October 11, 2007