Bears

Devin Hester nominated for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Bears

The greatest returner of all time is one step closer to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Chicago Bears legend Devin Hester is among 10 first-year eligible players for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2022.

Hester is nominated as a wide receiver, but it's his work as a punt and kick returner that earned him the nomination. The odds are stacked against a special teamer though. There are 326 inductees to the Hall of Fame, but only four place kickers and one punter.

Hester would be the first primary returner to be inducted.

Hester was a four-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler. He also won three NFL Alumni Special Teams Player of the Year Awards and was elected to two All-Decade teams. Hester has 20 returns for a touchdown, six from kickoffs and 14 from punts.

The most iconic of which might be the kick off return for a touchdown to open the Super Bowl.

"It's crazy because it's the first ever do it," Hester told the Under Center Podcast of a possible induction. "Just to be the first one is is crazy. And it's mind boggling because you're thinking about me as a player and everything that I did and everything to accomplish and to be the first ever to do it, it's almost (mind boggling)."

Hester also discussed blazing a trail for others.

 

"Nobody from 1990 to today had ever thought about I'll be the first quarterback to make it to the Hall of Fame. I'll be the first running back. Nobody in our era has ever thought about it," Hester said. "And for me and my era to say that wow, I'll be the first kickoff and punt returner that makes it to the Hall of Fame, to open up the doors for everybody else."

He also holds the NFL record for most returns for a touchdown in a season with six. His total returns and punt return figures are also NFL records.

It's going to be a tough road, there are a lot of notable nominees. That includes other Bears legends like linebacker Lane Briggs, offensive lineman Olin Kreutz and cornerback Peanut Tillman.

Other first-ballot eligible players are: Anquan Boldin (WR), Andre Johnson (WR), Steve Smith (WR), Jake Long (OT), Nick Mangold (C), Antonio Cromartie (CB), Robert Mathis (DE), Vince Wolfork (DT/NT), and DeMarcus Ware (OLB).

Here are the rest of the nominees, via NFL.com:

Quarterback: Randall Cunningham, Jake Delhomme, Boomer Esiason, Jeff Garcia, Dave Krieg, Donovan McNabb, Steve McNair

Running Backs: Shaun Alexander, Mike Alstott (FB), Tiki Barber, Earnest Byner, Larry Centers (FB), Corey Dillon, Eddie George, Priest Holmes, Steven Jackson, Jamal Lewis, Eric Metcalf, Lorenzo Neal (FB), Fred Taylor, Herschel Walker (also KR), Ricky Waters, Brian Westbrook

Wide Receivers: Troy Brown, Donald Driver, Henry Ellard (also PR), Torry Holt, Joe Horn, Chad Johnson, Derrick Mason, Muhsin Muhammad, Andre Rison, Jimmy Smith, Rod Smith, Hines Ward, *Reggie Wayne, Wes Welker

Tight Ends: Dallas Clark, Ben Coates, Brent Jones, Heath Miller, Wesley Walls

Offensive Linemen: Willie Anderson (T), Matt Birk (C), *Tony Boselli (T), Lomas Brown (T), Ruben Brown (G), D'Brickashaw Ferguson (T), Kevin Glover (C/G), Jordan Gross (T), Olin Kreutz (C), Logan Mankins (G), Jesse Sapolu (C/G), Jeff Saturday (C), Chris Snee (G), Brian Waters (G), Richmond Webb (T), Erik Williams (T), Steve Wisniewski (G)

Defensive Linemen: John Abraham (DE also LB), *Jared Allen (DE), La'Roi Glover (DT/NT), Casey Hampton (DT/NT), Leslie O'Neal (DE), Michael Dean Perry (DT/DE), Simeon Rice (DE), *Richard Seymour (DT), Justin Smith (DE), Neil Smith (DE), Greg Townsend (DE/LB/DT/NT), Justin Tuck (DE), Kevin Williams (DT), Bryant Young (DT)

Linebackers: Cornelius Bennett, Lance Briggs, Tedy Bruschi, London Fletcher, Seth Joyner, Willie McGinest (also DE), *Sam Mills, Hardy Nickerson Sr., Takeo Spikes, Pat Swilling (also DE), *Zach Thomas, Patrick Willis

Defensive Backs: Eric Allen (CB), *Ronde Barber (CB/S), Dre Bly (DB), *LeRoy Butler (S), Nick Collins (S), Merton Hanks (S), Rodney Harrison (S), Albert Lewis (CB), Tim McDonald (S), Allen Rossum (DB), Asante Samuel (CB), Bob Sanders (S), Charles Tillman (CB), Troy Vincent (CB), Adrian Wilson (S), Darren Woodson (S)

Punters/Kickers: Gary Anderson (K), Jeff Feagles (P), John Kasay (K), Sean Landeta (P), Ryan Longwell (K), Reggie Roby (P), Matt Turk (P)

 

Special Teams: Josh Cribbs (KR/PR also WR), Mel Gray (PR/KR also WR), Brian Mitchell (KR/PR also RB), Steve Tasker (ST also WR)

*Denotes 2021 finalist

Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.

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