The GOAT of the NFL return game has hung up his cleats.
Devin Hester, the all-time NFL leader in combined kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns, announced his retirement via Twitter today.
“I have good news and bad news,” he said in a statement. “Good news: Commissioner Goodell, you can put the kickoff back at the 30. Bad news: Y’all will have to find a new favorite returner.”
Hester, 35, finished his career with 14 punt returns for touchdowns and five more scores on kickoff returns. He also had one touchdown return of a missed field goal. Considered the best return man in the NFL for many years, he made four Pro Bowls and was first-team All-Pro three times. The 14 punt-return TDs mark is also the best in NFL history.
He played for Baltimore and Seattle last season but hadn’t played this year.
CURTAINS Appreciate all of the love for all these years!!! Y’all made the ride incredible!!!
Hester did his early damage with the Chicago Bears. The University of Miami product led the league in punt return yards and touchdowns (three) during his rookie season in 2006. He played eight years with the Bears.
“To all of the Bears fans, you brought me in and made a Florida boy feel at home in the Midwest from Day 1. I grew into a man, built a family, and became who I am today in the city of Chicago. I’ll always remember the noise y’all made whenever I hit open turf at Soldier [Field] — never heard anything quite like it.
“I’d also especially like to thank Coach Lovie Smith for taking a chance on me in the draft and getting this whole thing started.”
Besides returning kicks and punts, Hester also played defensive back at the U. The Bears utilized his mostly as a wide receiver outside of playing him on special teams. In 2009, he made 57 catches for 757 yards and three TDs. He finished with 16 receiving touchdowns.
“Hopefully next time I see y’all it’ll be in Canton,” Hester concluded. For many, his future induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame is simply a matter of time. How could they keep the best return man ever out?