Hester was the greatest return man in the NFL, but is he a HOFer?
When Devin Hester was on the field, he was a threat to take it to the house.
Every. Single. Damn. Time.
“I have good news and bad news. 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.”
But while he was the most dangerous return man the game has seen, which you can clearly see here, is he Hall of Fame worthy? It’s an interesting question as the contributions which made him so great were on special teams, so does that hinder his chances any? To Hester, it shouldn’t be an issue at all, and he told the Athletic’s Jon Greenberg just that.
“Being in HOF, I have no doubt in my mind I (will) make it,” said Hester. “I know I will. When it’s all said and done, there’s no question I will be a Hall of Famer.”
If you think about it, being the best at any position over time should grant you Hall of Fame status. The best kicker, the best cover corner, etc. Shouldn’t it be the same for the greatest return man? Special teams are an integral part of the game, so his 20 non-offensive career TDs should count towards enshrinement.
Devin Hester has officially announced his retirement from the NFL.
He has more non-offensive touchdowns than any other player in NFL history. pic.twitter.com/OEiZ7X7Vf2
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 12, 2017
He ranks ahead of Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson in terms of non-offensive touchdowns. That says a lot.
As we wrote back in December of 2017, Hester “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.”
Voters, and fans, also need to take into consideration how many times teams kicked away from him or kicked the ball out of bounds instead of running the risk of Hester taking it to the house on them. When you have to diagram and call a play specifically for one player, doesn’t that say a lot for that player’s greatness? How many offensive coordinators drew up schemes to either block or run away from LT and Ray Lewis? How many QBs wouldn’t even look at the receiver being covered by Champ Bailey?
Hester influenced and, arguably, changed the game when it came to special teams. His former teammate, Matt Forte, agrees.
“He changed the game,” said Forte. “I mean, literally, changed the game. If you can affect the game like that, he’s gotta be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The definition of a Hall of Famer is somebody who changed the game — like defenses and coaches had to carve out certain time to assess that particular guy. There’s not going to be another Devin Hester ever, I don’t believe.”
Reputation has to count for something, and in Hester’s case, it definitely should count as something more.
As Coach Boone said “You’re a Hall of Famer in my book.”