Bears News

Emma: Devin Hester deserves a spot in Hall of Fame but his wait continues

1 year agoChris Emma

For all that made Devin Hester such a dynamic player during the course of his historic career, perhaps the most underrated aspect of his game was patience.

Each time Hester would plant his feet and haul in the football for a return, he would slow down for mere moments – his eyes gazing towards the oncoming coverage team and sensing where a lane could develop. Hester’s legs were in motion but his mind was becoming still, the game suddenly slow, and he was preparing for takeoff. After that brief pause, Hester was gone.

Hester must wait a little longer. He was not selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2023 on Thursday night, this in his second year as a modern-era finalist.

There’s a void in Canton until the Pro Football Hall of Fame selects Hester into its immortality. One of football’s great game-changing stars, Hester deserves his gold jacket.

No player in football history was the return game threat that Hester represented. He is the NFL’s all-time leader in return touchdowns with 20, including 14 punt returns taken back to the end zone. Hester played eight of his 11 seasons in the NFL with the Bears, recording all but one of his return touchdowns for Chicago.

“Whenever you say that somebody is the best at a position in the NFL, when you say they’re the best, the greatest of all time, he should be in the Hall of Fame,” former Bears head coach Lovie Smith told me after Hester’s retirement in 2017.

But that has not been the opinion of the voters for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This 49-member group of media members – with 32 from each NFL city (two representing New York and Los Angeles) and 17 at-large voters – cannot find the 80% necessary to select Hester into Canton. It’s based on the belief that primary special-teams players do not belong in the company of the game’s great Hall of Fame position players.

There are just four primary special-teams players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and each of those are kickers (Morten Anderson, George Blanda, Lou Groza, Jan Stenerud). There is no primary return specialist who has been inducted with the game’s greats.

A poll of NFL writers and reporters conducted in December by Hall of Fame voter Rick Gosselin asked whether an amnesty class should be formed for special-teams standouts who haven’t been voted into Canton. It returned 67% saying yes for such a concept, with a nod to the great Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Steve Tasker and now Hester.

In a separate poll conducted by Gosselin, 52% of the voters were in favor of a Hall of Fame slot once every five years that is designated for a special-teams player.

It shouldn’t have to reach this point for Hester, whose name is all over the record books and highlights remain as jaw-dropping today as they were live. He was not just an electrifying player, Hester was simply a game-changing phenomenon.

If Hester is ultimately selected in to the Hall of Fame, it would merely be a correction of the miscalculation made these last two years.

Hester’s remarkable career and contributions to the game of football deserve to be immortalized in the Hall of Fame.

Don’t Miss Out On The Action!

Sign up for the Marquee Sports Network Newsletter today for all the latest Cubs news, plus upcoming Marquee programming and much more!

Newsletter Signup
Consent *
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.