Hester hopes the Hall of Fame door is open to special teamers

AP

Devin Hester watched with interest as punter Ray Guy was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hester liked seeing someone get a bust in Canton for contributions on special teams because Hester is hoping to join Guy in the Hall some day.

“When you talk about the Hall of Fame, you really don’t talk about special teams,” Hester told the Chicago Sun-Times. “You talk running back, linebacker, receiver, quarterback kind of guys. The first time a special-teams guy made the Hall of Fame — he just opened up the window for everyone else.”

Guy wasn’t actually the first special teams guy to make the Hall of Fame (that would be kicker Jan Stenerud), but Hester said he thinks Guy’s induction may have been a positive sign for Hester’s own chances. And Hester believes he has nothing left to prove and has already earned a spot in the Hall of Fame.

‘‘I pretty much have all the return records,’’ he said.

Hester owns the all-time NFL records for combined special teams touchdowns in a career, combined kick return touchdowns in a season and punt return touchdowns for both a season and a career. Is that enough to get Hester in the Hall of Fame? He thinks so. But if the voters are as skeptical about Hester as they were about Guy, Hester will have to wait until he’s an old man to enjoy his Hall of Fame induction.

87 responses to “Hester hopes the Hall of Fame door is open to special teamers

  1. When you talk about players that literally change the game, Hester definitely should be in the HOF.
    Count how many times he had 20 + yards on a punt return and I believe he had no peers.
    Other teams are so afraid of him they kick it out of bounds.
    The only person who really stopped hester was Goodell by moving up the kickoffs.

  2. He’s going to be hurt by anyone who argues against him using the performance of the other returners in Chicago during that time. They broke off big returns and got TDs too. Ultimately, wanting to get paid led to the WR experiment and his average ST play during that time.

  3. My initial instinct was to think he shouldn’t make it, but when you read all of those records, it is pretty clear that he is the best all-time at an important–and underappreciated– aspect of the game… That should certainly count for something.

  4. I have difficulty in putting in a guy who is elite at returning kicks and punts, but contributes virtually nothing at his actual position of wide receiver. It’s the reason why guys like Brian Mitchell and Desmond Howard aren’t in. They were elite returners too, but contributed little at their actual position.

    If I were to put a returner in, he’d have to contribute a little more on offense or defense to put him over the top. Kind of like Eric Metcalf, who actually had a 1000 yd receiving season.

  5. I’m indifferent on this. Hester was a great return-guy, but is that enough to be in the Hall of Fame?

    Part of me says “Of course, Hester changed the way teams looked at kick/punt returners.”

    The other part of me says “The guy has scored 32 touchdowns in his career and turned out to be below-average in any other facet of the game.”

    I’d be open to him getting into the Hall of Fame, but I think a great case could be made that his inability to make an impact on offense or defense could make his HOF contention a steep uphill battle.

  6. Tim brown… Kevin Greene.. Charles Haley.. To name a few. Not in the hall but he thinks he should be…. Please

  7. Absolutely not.

    You dont get to the HOF for 3-4 good years. You get it for 10 plus dominant years.

    He didnt “change” the game, if anything, there has been a devaluation of the return game since his arrival.

    Good player, but nothing close to HOF.

  8. Lovie Smith and Jerry Angelo ruined Devin Hester, the greatest PR/KR in the history of the game – proverbially-speaking, they killed the Golden Goose.

    And they did it by indulging Hester in his own egotistical need/greed to want to play as #1 or 2 WR, which he should’ve never been (at most, he would’ve been okay in the slot).

    If the Bears had some real leadership/coaching at the time, they would’ve denied Hester his ambitions to be a wide-out, and kept him strictly (or almost strictly) in the role of returner, where he belongs.

    It’s no coincidence that once Hester started lining up at WR, his impact in the return game declined dramatically. And while I admit it’s speculative on my part, I believe Hester likely would’ve surpassed the records long ago had he never lost his focus and tried to convert himself to WR.

    The Bears coaches and GM at the time hold a lot of blame for wrongly indulging him and allowing him to lose focus. You can’t pound a square peg into a round hole. What’s worse – you had the BEST square peg ever, and you ruined it.

  9. I saw too soon to tell.. If he can put up some more solid numbers for a few more years it will help his case.

  10. yeah he was real good for what, 3-6 plays a season?

    Great at what he did (perhaps best of all time), but it’s not a huge enough part of the game.

    PASS.

  11. After having Dave Toub as special teams coach on the Chiefs, I’m thoroughly convinced that Hester is absolutely nothing special. Toub can make everyone look like a damn good returner. Dexter McCluster is a prime example. The dude is slow as molasses and yet made the pro bowl as a returner. Should he be a HOFer too? Hester owes Dave a debt of gratitude for making him money. Lord knows he can’t catch a pass, or run a route.

  12. A player’s work as a returner should add to their resume when deciding HoF status; it should not be the most important part. He is a mediocre receiver, therefore, he is not a HoF player.

  13. I don’t know if Hester should make it, but special teamers should definitely be considered. Some players get assigned to special teams only, because that’s where they excel (e.g., Matthew Slater), and if a player is one of the best at that position for a long time, then that player should be considered for the Hall of Fame. Especially if you’re a “core 4” special teamer (punts and returns, kickoffs and returns), then you’re in for numerous plays every game, and plays that often make the difference in the outcome of the game. If you’re good enough on special teams to be worthy of the Hall of Fame, then you’re worthy of the Hall of Fame.

  14. Hester has a point. Much like what the HOF has done with creating a category for contributors, the HOF should create a spot just for players that played special teams. Look at Hester’s former teammate Patrick Mannelly who played 16 years as a long snapper and was one of the most valuable pieces to the Bears special teams.

  15. He certainly belongs in the Hall of Very Good. But if he’s a HOFer so are Dante Hall and Brian Mitchell, and I doubt anyone is making the case for them.

  16. tough call on ST guys like Hester or Tasker; both dominant and played important roles but…… guess it depends on overall impact on games and these guys do not play many snaps…

    I was a RGuy supporter; best ever at what he did and changed the game…

    not sure how you compare guys like Hester and Tasker to some of the great position players that may be borderline

  17. I believe special teamers should be in the HOF, because they dominated at their phase of the game. As for Hester, he needs to get in line behind others that have come before him, including:

    Steve Tasker
    Brian Mitchel
    Mel Gray
    Dave Meggett
    Billy White Shoes Johnson
    Desmond Howard
    Eric Metcalf

  18. I hope he makes it. His production his last couple of years in Chicago tailed off badly, and it was time for him to go, but he still deserves to get in.

    In fact, given the bias of HOF voters against adding any more Bears, his best chance may be to go in as a Falcon.

  19. Maybe so, but I’d vote Pat Mannelly in before Hester. Reliability (best ever at a critical position), durability (one significant injury in 16 seasons), longevity (192 games, a Bears team record) …. Pat is off the charts.

  20. Yeah, and I’m hoping the HOF is open to special fans, as well. I think we will both be disappointed.

  21. Dave Toub is the best special teams coach in the NFL, and Dave Toub was his coach for all of Hester’s years except last season, whe performance was down for Hester. Let’s see the body of work when the career is over.

  22. Terell Davis was a BEAST. For a couple of years. Just like Hester. Still not HOF. And to the fool earlier, “so easy to get into the HOF…”….REALLY? What planet do you call home?

  23. When I think of Special Teamers for the Hall of Fame, I think of Special Teamers, i.e., Kickers, Punters, Holders, Long Snappers. I don’t think of WRs who are returning kicks or punts. You should get into the Hall of Fame for what you are. Otherwise, players like Jimmy Graham will want to go into the Hall of Fame as a Wide Receiver rather than what he is, a Tight End.

  24. Maybe it’s just me, but when did it become acceptable for players to start petitioning for their own spot in the Hall of Fame?

    Players state their case with their play on the field, and that’s how it should be. But to start campaigning for a spot after (or even during) your career seems more than a bit too much in the self-promotion department.

    Hester may eventually get in as a special teams player, but it should be because of the scope of his work as a player, not because of a public campaign to drum up support.

    The example of Paul Krause should be noted by Hester and others who believe they have been or may be snubbed. Krause retired in 1979 as the NFL’s all time leading pass interceptor, with 81, a record that still stands today, and may never be broken.

    Was Krause a first-ballot Hall of Famer? No. In fact, he had to wait until his 14th year of eligibility to be inducted. Yet he never started a campaign for induction, and his acceptance speech showed no bitterness at the long wait. He handled the entire situation with class. It’d be nice to see more of that.

  25. I’d put him in, but only after Steve Tasker. Special teams is under-represented. And there’s a real risk of that getting worse as all the wide receivers and QBs with big numbers from the current era start becoming eligible. Not sure how they’ll sort that all out, but this current pass-happy era is producing a lot of guys who will have amazing numbers compared to past guys who made it who will actually be inferior players.

  26. Hester is the rare special teams guy who deserves to get in. He impacted the outcome of so many games, not only with his spectacular touchdowns but also his ability to flip field position when he didn’t go all the way.

  27. Josh Gordon should be on that list, not only for the TD’s and returns, but he was also Steve Tasker on coverage teams, which Hester can’t claim.

  28. I’m not trying to take anything away from Hester’s impact. For a while, he changed the way teams game planned for the Bears. I can’t help but thinking about all of the guys who were considered too valuable at their actual positions to be a returner though. You don’t think Randy Moss could have ran back a couple of kicks? How about Adrian Peterson taking 2 back in 16 tries as a rookie? I’m sure the Chiefs and Eagles wish they had a couple more Jamaal Charles’ and LeSean McCoys to give their special teams units a boost. It’s not like the Bears thought Hester was too valuable of a returner to risk him playing another position. He just wasn’t good enough to play anywhere else. He was the best of the expendable, and that’s not my definition of a Hall of Famer.

  29. In addition to my earlier comment, it should also be noted that Hester, for all his accomplishments as a returner, is only #8 all-time in PR yards (behind guys like Mitchell and Meggett, as well as Darrien Gordon) and #22 in KR yards (Cribbs is #3 all-time and Hester’s total is a shade shy of 1/3 of Mitchell’s total). That’s clearly not HOF-worthy…regardless of how many return TDs he has…

  30. As a Green Bay Packer fan I must say I hate the Bears but respect the hell out of our rival franchise. If Devin Hester doesn’t get into the hall it would be a travesty of justice. He changed games, he was the most prolific player to do what he could do and his skills helped them to two NFC Championship games and one super bowl. Hester was a once in a life time talent and deserves to be in the Hall cause no one can do what he did as consistently and effectively as he did it.

  31. When Cordarrelle Patterson breaks your return record within the next 5 to 6 years, it wont matter anyway.

  32. Oh please.
    He had 2 good years to start his career, then a few mediocre ones, then he had one decent year after that.

    A couple seasons returning kicks hardly warrants HOF talk.

  33. I’d put him in tomorrow if it meant that we would never have to hear any more of the “Steve Tasker should get in” nonsense.

  34. I don’t think he should be, the guy is a stud on returns no question about that… but a return specialist is not considered a position for a reason… Hester was not a RB, he did not excel at receiver which were the two things he could have been listed as. Jimmy Graham was considered a tight end even though he lined up as a receiver more. You are the position you are listed as, and he was not a HoF receiver.

    IMO

  35. You really have to take career return stats with a HUGE grain of salt. Most really great return guys either never do it in the NFL, or they stop as soon as they are valuable at their “regular” positions.

    How many return TDs could Barry Sanders (or many others….) have if he did it for 10 years? Hester had proved inept first as a cornerback and then as a receiver. He had 4 incredible seasons as a returner with the benefit of an excellent overall Special Teams squad and also 4 mediocre seasons as a returner. I don’t think that = HOF.

    If you compare to other prominent returners Eric Metcalf was actually a real contributor on offense as a 3rd down back back and receiver (even has a 100 catch/1000 yard season to his credit) and still an elite returner well into his 30’s. Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson were only p/t returners off and on throughout their careers, but obviously HOF worthy based on cb play alone.

    Hester has been a non-contributor in other aspects of the game – including other aspects of special teams such as kick coverage (as opposed to someone like Steve Tasker).

  36. FTR, I’m not opposed to the idea that a player who’s value is largely tied to special teams getting in, but they need to do it longer and contribute in some other fashion imo.

    I just don’t Hester has the resume to justify it….at this point in his career it basically reads “Dante Hall with better blocking”.

  37. On Lovie Smith’s offense-starved teams, Hester’s returns literally won games for them that they would have otherwise lost. He also kept them in other games that they otherwise would have lost in a blowout.

    So argue all you want about the viability of a returner being in the HOF, but there is really no disputing his immense value to that franchise for all but the last couple of seasons there.

  38. To the guy mentioning Terrell Davis

    Yes he was a HOF level player, was dominant, and, though injury shortened career, should get in…. same with the better Sharpe, Sterling…. those two, like Sayers, were the best in the game and deserve special consideration IMO

  39. Hester is without a doubt a hall of famer. He changed games in an instant. He is one return from being the all-time return man. There are three that I’ve seen, he returned but negated due to questionable penalties (at least 2 of them). People talk about how he’s not as dangerous as he once was etc etc…I tend to think the haters forget how many times teams have literally kicked away from him..people forget Goodell has taken away the ability of returns in the kicking games because he don’t want a special teamer in the HOF. he wants to rid of any kick offs or returns…so how can yor game be off if they’re kicking away from you? love to see how many times kickers kicked away from him.

    H.O.F. #23 By the way bears don’t have a replacement for him to save their lives…they will regret it.

  40. He’s definitely not a 1st ballot HOFer but I’d say he deserves to get in. Hesters not just some great kick/punt returner, he’s the record holder of basically every return record. He may not be good or even average at his regular position but he’s the best Return Man of All Time and that alone gets my vote!

  41. Honestly as of yet I dont see him as a Hall of Famer. If he continues to do what he did his first several years in the league no doubt, he will go into the Hall. I think he has peaked. He is great but we are talking Hall of Fame here

  42. He wasn’t a game changer, he was just another in a long line of good return men including Mel gray, Desmond Howard, Dante hall etc…every couple if years there is another one, since Hester, we’ve had Cribbs, Peterson, Washington, Patterson…if you can’t help your team in other ways, then you should be remembered as a good player, but not HOF worthy.

  43. Here’s the deal, it is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Board of Selectors will most likely receive a nomination for Hester when he becomes eligible, five years after he retires. After the board is polled in March, September and again in October, fifteen finalists will be selected by the committee via mail in ballot in November. If Hester is a finalist, he’ll still need to accrue eighty percent of the committee’s votes, as well as be in the top seven vote-getters, if there are at least eight with eighty percent of the committee’s votes. Depending on your perspective, in any given year, it could be exceedingly difficult to get inducted or it could be a cakewalk. To me, a HOF’er should have a certain je ne sais quoi, something perhaps indefinable, yet again, as Justice Potter Stewart stated in his concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 US 184 “I know it when I see it”. I suppose you have to ask yourself, is what he did on the field of play enough to be enshrined in the PFHOF? Past that, it’s all flotsam and jetsam.

  44. When people teach kick and punt returning from now on, they’ll be showing tape of Hester. Players that change the game belong in the Hall of Fame.

    Is there anyone that can forget his return of a field goal attempt by the Giants? Or his Super Bowl play?

    KR and PR are positions, and Hester is the best there ever was at them.

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