Matt Forte: Devin Hester should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer

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The Bears recognized running back Matt Forte and kick returner Devin Hester at a retirement ceremony on Monday, and Forte made the case that Hester should get a bust in Canton.

Forte said that even though Hester was a punt and kickoff returner and played only sparingly outside special teams, that contribution in the kicking game is enough.

“He changed the game,” Forte said. “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.”

Hester noted the possibility that he could be the last kickoff returner in Canton, as the kickoff may be going away.

“It’s a big part of football, it’s one of the most exciting plays when you’re playing this game of football,” Hester said. “At the end of the day, if I’m the last, if I’m the one to be the best at the return game, it’s an honor. But at the same time, I want to continue to see it play out.”

Hester is a player that today’s generation will tell future generations about — in part because future generations won’t witness kickoff returns.

73 responses to “Matt Forte: Devin Hester should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer

  1. He is the reason I cheer for the Bears. I used to go to the bathroom or grab a drink on punts. You couldn’t leave the room with 23 on the field. What a talent.

  2. I’ll be honest. It stung when he cracked that record in a Falcons uniform. I was happy for him, but more “crying in the bathroom at an ex’s wedding” happy than “that was effin’ amazing” happy.

  3. Devin Hester was the most exciting player I have ever watched. He could win games for the Bears just by returning kicks. Teams would rather give the ball to the Bears on the 50 rather than kick it in the end zone to Hester. I have never seen teams scared of any other player to that degree before. He should be in the HoF.

  4. He was an unbelievable return man for 5-6 years, the best ever. Is that enough to get him in the HOF? Maybe, but I don’t know about first-ballot.

  5. Dave Toub was a huge part of Devin’s success and he probably should have been made Head Coach instead of being released. Hester was part of that purge and he, nor the Bears, have been quite the same since. He’s good enough to be first ballot, but probably won’t be. Good luck to him and Matt Forte in their retirements.

  6. He was amazing. But Brian Mitchell was way more consistent, and he isn’t in. I don’t know. I think both should be in, and both should be (or have been) 1st ballot guys, but the voters clearly have an agenda when it comes to special teams.

  7. Sorry but if we’re going to elect Special Teams players “who changed the game”, Steve Tasker goes in first. Seven Pro Bowls and Pro Bowl MVP in 93, back when the Pro Bowl meant something.

  8. “The definition of a Hall of Famer is somebody who changed the game”
    =========================================

    How did Tony Dungy change the game?

  9. I don’t agree, fun to watch but if you’re going to put him in there (especially first ballot), why not consider the SEVEN returners ahead of him in yards, one of which has 8000-9000 yards more over a similar career? Where’s Josh Cribbs, who had more kickoffs returned for TDs, or Eric Metcalf who was just 4 punt returned for TDs behind Hester?

    Based on these stats there are plenty of specialists who should qualify, but they haven’t. Personally I think the Hall is too skewed to money positions (I don’t call them skill positions, because it takes a lot of skill to play the Line as well) but first ballot HoF? I don’t think so.

  10. That latest headline from “DUH” magazine.

    If your the best at something, you belong in Canton.

    He CHANGED the game. Before Devin Hester teams did not kick away from people. He was the first.

    And as kickoffs are phased out, probably the last.

  11. GOAT. It’s not even a debate. Think of how many more scores he would have had if teams actually kicked to him. He gave the Bears ridiculous field position every time, even when he didn’t touch the ball. Imagine what they could have done if they had a marginally competent QB at any point during his tenure. I agree with Forte.

  12. i’m sorry but Hester is NOT a Hall of Famer, he was an excellent “kick returner” and an average receiver but when was the last time a kick returner made the H.O.F. just based on his kick returning skills, if he was a very good receiver then it would be a no brainer that he should be in.

  13. the day the stop using kickoffs and returns is the day i completely stop watching football. I’m not saying the players are weak but we are becoming a nation of the weak. Won’t be a part of it.

  14. I get the reason, but honestly it’s hard to get a special teams only player in because their overall impact on the game is lessened to a dramatic extent. When you look at the macro of the game, they have minimal impact. Maybe a couple touches a game. Even a kicker has a much greater impact that a returner.

  15. He averaged what, 2 TDs a year during his career? Is Canton really that desperate? As a returner, you have 10 guys blocking for you on every play. What did he ever accomplish as a WR? Nothing. Sorry folks, no HoF for a special teamer.

  16. he was excellent at what he did but doubtful he gets voted in….they need to start taking care of more of the old guys imo as opposed to all the newly eligible guys anyway

  17. It’s a shame that Jerry Angelo tried (unsuccessfully) to make him a receiver for several years. He should have been fired for that alone.

  18. My question to those who watched him more than me, how is it possible he was such an incredible talent in the return game, but never was able to duplicate that talent anywhere else. Seems if someone is that elusive you would find a way to get the ball in his hands on offense.

  19. Oh please. First Terrell Davis, now Devin Hester? Who’s next, Bo Jackson??

    If you put these guys in, please split the HOF into 3 tiers:

    1. Above Average, bronze bust
    2. Great, sliver bust
    3. Elite, gold bust

    Let’s pick a position and apply an example, such as Running Back. A Tier 1 guy: Terrell Davis. He had some amazing seasons, but very short career. Tier 2 guy: Marshall Faulk. He could run, catch, won the big game. Tier 3: Emmitt Smith. He walked the talk, talked the talk. All time leader in rushing yards, 3x Super Bowls, Super Bowl MVP, League MVP, the accolades go on and on.

    If it were organized this way, then I’d be OK with putting guys like Hester in. So long as his bust is bronze, and people understand he was an above average guy — but not Elite. Otherwise, you’re diminishing the value of HOF the same as the once reputable accomplishment of being selected to the Pro Bowl.

  20. Ya, right after Dante Hall… And a few of those Punters who were remarkable holders… And those guys who warm up the QB’s, what are they called? Oh ya, backup QB’s, ya get a couple of them in Canton too.

    Hester was fun to watch, for about 3 years, but let’s not get carried away.

  21. HELL YES HE SHOULD BE IN THE HOF. Whether he had the ball in his hands or the threat of him having the ball in his hands (and try to kick away from him)he always had an impact on the game.

  22. ST coach Dave Toub was the main reason for Hester’s numbers. Look at his results without Hester – it’s just as good (and sometimes even better!)

    2008 Danieal Manning avg 30 yd/rt (Hester only 22 yds/rt kickoff and 6.2 yds punts)
    2009 Johnny Knox (pro bowler 2009 avg 29yd/rt); even Bennett got higher punt return avg.
    2013-2017 KC Chiefs (probowler Tyreek Hill avg 28 yds, 2013 probowler McCluster, Thomas 31 yds/rt in 2014, Davis 32 yd/rt in 2013).

    Point being, Toub’s special team returners are always near the very top. This tells me it’s a product of very good blocking and coaching to be this consistent.

  23. Great returner, but if you cant get on the field for offense, you shouldn’t be a first ballot HOF. With all of the great players waiting to get in due to the cap of 5, sending a returner in, and making guys like TO wait is abhorrent.

  24. In today’s NFL, Hester would be a pro bowl slot receiver. Nagy would make him the Tyreek Hill of the Bears offense.

    But sadly, the Bears dum-dum coaches a decade ago tryed to turn him into a #1 outside WR, lol.

  25. While impressive (av pr 11.7, av kr 24.9), it is just too one-dimensional and overlooks 41 fumbles. Take Julian Edelman, his av pr is also 11.7, and his av kr is 20.9 (and only 21 fumbles). But he’s not done as many returns as Hester because he’s also one of the league’s best slots who normally leads the Pats in yards so they keep looking for others to take/share returns. Sorry Devin, you were great in one aspect but to me you’re like 1/10th of an Edelman.

  26. Bear fans need something to cheer for. He was exciting to watch on what, 200 of 600 plays? Kickoff return, punt return are the hardest jobs on the football field. But he’s not a first ballot HOF. He’s not over 15,000 in all purpose yards (just behind Forte). What about Eric Metcalf or Brian Mitchell (Mitchell has almost 9,000 more all purpose yards than Hester).

  27. jyosuckas says:
    April 24, 2018 at 7:46 am
    Sorry but if we’re going to elect Special Teams players “who changed the game”, Steve Tasker goes in first. Seven Pro Bowls and Pro Bowl MVP in 93, back when the Pro Bowl meant something.

    —————————–
    Sorry. While Tasker was great, the Pro Bowl has never meant anything. Players would routinely find an injury to back out.

  28. Special Teams players are woefully underrepresented in the HOF. With the current climate in the NFL seemingly leading to the eventual removal of the Kick Return we need to push to have return specialists added to the Hall as soon as possible.

    That being said I don’t necessarily agree that a return man should be a first ballot HOFer, but Devin Hester is inarguably the greatest return man in NFL history and he definitely belongs in Canton.

  29. twinfan24 says:
    April 24, 2018 at 9:18 am
    jyosuckas says:
    April 24, 2018 at 7:46 am
    Sorry but if we’re going to elect Special Teams players “who changed the game”, Steve Tasker goes in first. Seven Pro Bowls and Pro Bowl MVP in 93, back when the Pro Bowl meant something.

    —————————–
    Sorry. While Tasker was great, the Pro Bowl has never meant anything. Players would routinely find an injury to back out.

    ————————————

    That simply was not true back in the day. This is how I know you’re a Millennial.

  30. dejadoh says:
    April 24, 2018 at 9:10 am
    Bear fans need something to cheer for. He was exciting to watch on what, 200 of 600 plays? Kickoff return, punt return are the hardest jobs on the football field. But he’s not a first ballot HOF. He’s not over 15,000 in all purpose yards (just behind Forte). What about Eric Metcalf or Brian Mitchell (Mitchell has almost 9,000 more all purpose yards than Hester).

    1 0 Rate This

    ————————-

    Agreed. The greatest punt returner ever in terms of YPR is Julian Edelman. Factor that in and his other accomplishments all around, and this makes him a HOF candidate because he has historical impact in the return game?

    I think Hester should be considered, but in no way is a STs player a slam dunk 1st ballot guy.

  31. arrowhead816 says:
    April 24, 2018 at 8:39 am
    If Hester gets in…then Dante Hall definitely should get in too

    3 5 Rate This
    ————————

    Mel Gray, Brian Mitchell, Eric Metcalf and a host of others would have to be in, too.

    Hester’s bigest claim to fame is how many TDs het got in a era of poor tackling and fundamentals.

  32. Jim Sorgi should be in the HOF. Nobody held a clipboard like Jim. And he carried Peyton’s bags on and off the bus without even being asked. Jim changed the game.

  33. “The definition of a Hall of Famer is somebody who changed the game”
    =========================================

    How did Tony Dungy change the game?

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I get that it’s easy to name a bunch of Hall of Famers that didn’t exactly “change the game,” but you named the wrong one. The Tampa 2 defense that Dungy installed in TB is *still* used by every team in the league at least in part and sometimes as the base defense. Dungy is also the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, which likely opened the door for a lot of other guys. You might even give him a little credit for building the Tampa team that won the Super Bowl if you want a cherry on top.

  34. As a life-long Packer fan, I can’t say that I miss Hester or Tillman’s Peanut Punch crap. But yes, Hester is an absolute Hall of Famer. Desmond Howard was a Super Bowl MVP, his kick and punt returns pretty much won XXXI, along with White’s sacks. But these guys can be game changers and Hester was the greatest returner ever.

  35. iejdaniel says:
    April 24, 2018 at 8:13 am
    Forte is insane.

    —————-

    Of course he is. It’s Millennial Disease. He probably thinks Frank Gore and himself are HOFers too.

    lol

  36. “… Let’s pick a position and apply an example, such as Running Back. A Tier 1 guy: Terrell Davis. He had some amazing seasons, but very short career. Tier 2 guy: Marshall Faulk. He could run, catch, won the big game. Tier 3: Emmitt Smith. He walked the talk, talked the talk. All time leader in rushing yards, 3x Super Bowls, Super Bowl MVP, League MVP, the accolades go on and on ….”
    _________________________________________________________

    I’m sorry but this is no way to judge greatness. Anthony Munoz doesn’t have any of those accolades, is he not great?

  37. I agree that he belongs in the HOF but maybe not a first ballot. First Ballot players should be reserved for players who are outstanding at their primary position. Hester although he was an amazing return guy, was a bad to below average wide receiver which is his primary position. No player ever does Kickoff’s only, but are expected to play their primary position along with the kickoff returner. Now if Hester was a decent or even average receiver, along with his kick off amazing play, I would agree that he belongs a first ballot HOF.

  38. hailtothenamechange says:
    April 24, 2018 at 9:53 am
    “The definition of a Hall of Famer is somebody who changed the game”
    =========================================

    How did Tony Dungy change the game?

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    I get that it’s easy to name a bunch of Hall of Famers that didn’t exactly “change the game,” but you named the wrong one. The Tampa 2 defense that Dungy installed in TB is *still* used by every team in the league at least in part and sometimes as the base defense. Dungy is also the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, which likely opened the door for a lot of other guys. You might even give him a little credit for building the Tampa team that won the Super Bowl if you want a cherry on top.

    0 0 Rate This

    ————————

    Why isn’t Tom Flores in as the FIRST MINORITY coach to win TWO SUPER BOWLS?

    Also, it was Monte Kiffin’s D in TB. Dungy’s Ds sucked donkey dung the entire time he was in Indy with Peyton Manning as his QB.

  39. I think Hester is a great player and he did revolutionized the kick return game, however, that does not automatically qualify him for the Hall. His team contributions have been deservedly recognized, but I do not believe his overall contributions to the game of football are on pace with the other greats that have already been enshrined.

  40. If “changing the game” is the “definition of a Hall of Famer”, then there are a lot of guys in there that should be kicked out. Check that guy for CTE, he’s obviously taken too many hits to the head.

  41. ajzinnecker says:
    April 24, 2018 at 10:15 am
    I agree that he belongs in the HOF but maybe not a first ballot. First Ballot players should be reserved for players who are outstanding at their primary position.

    ————

    ALL players inducted should be outstanding at their primary position should they not?

    Much like our country’s attitude on “everybody getting a tropy”, the HOF has become watered down. Jerome Bettis? Terrell Davis? Please…. It’s actually a slap in the face to guys who truly deserved it.

  42. I’m sorry but this is no way to judge greatness. Anthony Munoz doesn’t have any of those accolades, is he not great?
    ———————————————————————
    Is Anthony Munoz a running back? Obviously, you rank among peers. Not cross-positional accolades.

  43. getadealdonealready says:
    My question to those who watched him more than me, how is it possible he was such an incredible talent in the return game, but never was able to duplicate that talent anywhere else. Seems if someone is that elusive you would find a way to get the ball in his hands on offense.
    ——–
    When he left the Bears, he was getting older. Also, the NFL changed the kickoff blocking rules.

  44. Wasn’t there a Returner named Billy White shoes a long time ago that was a pretty good return man?

  45. There have only been two special teams players make it into the HoF–Jan Stenerud (PK) and Ray Guy (P). Both made an impact in every game they played. Ray Guy gave Oakland a huge advantage in the field position battle after every punt. Stenerud won many games with his foot. Normally I’d agree that special teams players don’t really belong in the HoF but I agree with these two, especially Ray Guy. Devin Hester accounted for 19 return TDs (14 PR, 5KR, 1 missed FG return). His 14 TDs returning punts is four more than the second guy (Eric Metcalf) and five more than Brian Mitchell. Deion Sanders had six.

    Does he belong in the HoF? I guess the voters will determine that. All I know was you were on the edge of your seat when he was back returning a punt because you never knew when he was going to break one. He affected the game as much if not more than Ray Guy and Jan Stenerud (nothing against them). He holds TEN NFL records related to returns. In my opinion, he deserves to be in Canton.

  46. dickroy says:

    Wasn’t there a Returner named Billy White shoes a long time ago that was a pretty good return man?

    Billy “White Shoes” Johnson. He was pretty good. He had six punt return TDs and two kickoff returns for TDs. Hester had more than twice as many return TDs.

  47. If the best ever at his position (even if it’s special teams) can’t get in, then no special teams player should ever get in again.

    PS – He will likely be the last “return only” player to make the HOF. Since soon there will only be punt returns…

  48. nhpats says:

    April 24, 2018 at 11:04 am

    ajzinnecker says:
    April 24, 2018 at 10:15 am
    I agree that he belongs in the HOF but maybe not a first ballot. First Ballot players should be reserved for players who are outstanding at their primary position.

    ————

    ALL players inducted should be outstanding at their primary position should they not?

    Much like our country’s attitude on “everybody getting a tropy”, the HOF has become watered down. Jerome Bettis? Terrell Davis? Please…. It’s actually a slap in the face to guys who truly deserved it.

    —————-

    I still think Hester deserve to get in. He is the best of all time in returns. I just don’t think he should get in for a long time because he was not a good receiver.

    I agree that Bettis and Davis don’t belong in there. Especially Davis. He did not play very long and has little to no records.

  49. He’d have my vote. Best returner I ever saw. All of this directional kicking started to avoid kicking the ball to him. It extended to others, too, but that doesn’t mean anything. It’s like the shift in baseball. It started with Ted Williams but to say anyone else they’re doing it to is as good as Ted Williams is ridiculous.

  50. He should be in the Hall of Fame. I just don’t think he will get in on first ballot. Maybe he has to wait four or five years on the finalists list before he can get it. It will still be a huge honor to be a specialist in the Hall.

    “Devin Hester, you are ridiculous!!”

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