There’s no argument that Devin Hester changed football. He was such a dynamic player on special teams that team’s legitimately had to change gameplans to avoid him. Now, he’s a semi-finalist to make the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot, and Bears special teams coordinator Chris Tabor thinks he should get the nod.
“When you see a great returner and you’re sitting and you guys are all contemplating who should be returning the ball, who’s your first comparison to? What name do you go to?” Tabor asked the gaggle of media gathered for his Thursday morning press conference. Of course, the peanut gallery responded with “Hester.”
“That answers the question,” Tabor said. “I’m going to leave it at that. That’s simple. Argument’s over.”
While Tabor made it seem like a simple argument from that standpoint, he did elaborate on how he affected the game, and how special he was from a “Can’t Miss TV” point of view.
“When he goes back to catch people weren't going to the concession stand, you wanted to see it,” Tabor said. “Or now, I guess people probably hit pause on the TV if you had to go get a drink in the kitchen there, you come back and hit play because you wanted to see it live.”
Tabor also has the rare distinction of both coaching for Hester, and against him.
Coach Pettine and I were in Cleveland and it's the end of the first half, maybe two seconds left, we had Billy Cundiff as our field goal kicker who had a really strong leg and we kicked a really long field goal and they put Devin back there to return it as most everybody would, and he kicks the first one but they call timeout and he ends up a little short on it. Did I get nervous on it? Absolutely. Did we stay out there and try it again? Absolutely. Did it end up short? It did. And out came Devin. I was standing on the other side saying 'Oh boy, here we go.' Fortunately we strung it out and I think he took it back to our 25 before he got tackled. I remember coach Pett, we were going in, I mean that was stressful and coach Pett goes 'Did that get your heart racing?' I said 'Absolutely.'
Hester is currently one of 26 semi-finalists for Hall of Fame Class of 2022. That list will be pared down to 15 finalists before the final voting process for who is enshrined at Canton.