Will Devin Hester be the next Bears legend to become a Hall of Famer?

Will Devin Hester be the next Bears legend to become a Hall of Famer?

Five of the Bears’ six living Hall of Famers were in attendance for this weekend’s Bears100 Celebration in Rosemont (only Brian Urlacher, who dropped out at the last second due to some self-reported digestive issues, was not present). Dick Butkus, Richard Dent, Dan Hampton, Mike Ditka, Gale Sayers and Mike Singletary brought with them to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center decades of history, reams of All-Pro honors and, of course, five distinguished gold jackets. 

And then there’s Devin Hester. He won’t be eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame until 2022, but very well could become the seventh Bears player enshrined in Canton. 

That is, if he can buck a trend that’s existed ever since the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s doors opened in 1963: Special teamers rarely get in. Only three are Hall of Famers: Two kickers (Morten Andersen and Jan Stenerud) and one punter (Ray Guy). No player who’s primary talent was as a returner is a Hall of Fame. 

But consider Hester’s resume: More punt return touchdowns (14) than anyone in NFL history; 20 total non-offensive touchdowns, the most in NFL history; one of two players with five or more kick return and punt return touchdowns; the highest average yards per punt return among players with at least 300 punt returns in their career; and three first-team All-Pro seasons and four Pro Bowl appearances. Anyone who watched him play, too, know he passed the eye test. 

“We’re sitting here talking about the Bears and 100 years,” Hester said. “There were a lot of return players when you think about 100 years of football. To say that, at the end of my career, do I feel like I’m the best that ever did it when it comes to kickoff return, punt return? 

“Honestly, I do.”

It’s hard to argue with that. 

Hester received one of the loudest ovations from the packed crowd during Friday’s Bears100 opening ceremonies, dancing across the stage to “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy),” the song he used to vibe to before his electrifying kickoff returns at Soldier Field. 

Hester remains very much a beloved figure in Chicago, and is appreciative of the support he’s received for his Hall of Fame bid since retiring. 

“Every now and then I get blogs pop up on my phone about whether or not I’m Hall of Fame worthy,” Hester said. “You know, a lot of the blogs are more positive than negative. A lot of the writers feel as though the things I did on the field are Hall of Fame worthy for me.”

You’d be hard-pressed to find many people at the Bears100 Celebration this weekend who didn’t believe Hester deserved to go to Canton. We'll find out in a few years if that belief extends beyond the borders of Chicagoland, allowing the best return man in NFL history to take his place among the legends of the game. 

“For my career, I would say that would be the icing on the cake for me,” Hester said. “Every player that plays football wants to be one of the best to ever do it. You get into that Hall of Fame vote and you get to be in the Hall of Fame, you get to say you’re one of the best to ever play in the National Football League.”

Should former Bears center Jay Hilgenberg be in the Hall of Fame?

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USA Today

Should former Bears center Jay Hilgenberg be in the Hall of Fame?

Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this August, an honor well-deserved for one of the greatest players in franchise history.

But with Urlacher's induction comes a logical next question: Which Bears players, if any, deserve a bronze bust alongside him and the other 14 Chicago legends with gold jackets?

According to Bleacher Report's list of every team's best non-Hall-of-Famer, former center Jay Hilgenberg is the team's biggest snub.

This is a toss-up between two centers, both of whom might ultimately deserve love from Canton. Jay Hilgenberg went to seven consecutive Pro Bowls with the team in the 1980s and 1990s and was a key member of that 1985 Super Bowl team, while Olin Kreutz went to six straight Pro Bowls in the 2000s and was an All-Pro on that 2006 Super Bowl-losing team. 

Kreutz has an advantage when it comes to longevity with the franchise, but Hilgenberg's team actually won the Lombardi Trophy, and he has a 2-1 edge when it comes to All-Pro honors.

Hilgenberg was an all-timer for the Bears, but whether he'll ever have enough votes for enshrinement is a different story. It'll probably take a really long time to get there, if ever.

The player with the most potential to be the next Bears Hall-of-Famer is Devin Hester, arguably the greatest special teams player in the history of the NFL; his 19 career touchdown returns (18 with the Bears) is proof of that.

He'll be a fascinating case to study considering his one-dimensional career. That said, he was one of the most dazzling and spectacular players to ever don the Bears' navy and orange

Brian Urlacher reflects after getting Hall of Fame nod: 'I was very happy to go to college for free'

Brian Urlacher reflects after getting Hall of Fame nod: 'I was very happy to go to college for free'

There’s plenty to say about Brian Urlacher’s Hall of Fame career.

Urlacher spent 13 years as a linebacker for the Bears and defined the team to a generation of fans. That’s why it’s no surprise he’s going in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on his first ballot.

When talking to reporters while the announcement was made official, Urlacher spoke about how the Hall of Famers “don’t do it on our own.”

“We got coaches, teachers or whoever coaching when you’re a kid, your parents,” Urlacher said. “But first and foremost is my mom. I was with my kids and my wife so that was nice. They got to be able to be there. I texted all my coaches who I played for in the NFL and college. My high school coaches shortly after I got the news as well. It’s a long list, much like most of these guys, of people you think of when you get news like that.”

Urlacher also reflected on his journey from Lovington High School in New Mexico to playing for the New Mexico Lobos in college before winding up with the Bears.

“I was very happy to go to college for free and get a scholarship to go play college football,” Urlacher said. “Then I got better and better there. Then I was told I might be a draft pick. That was my sophomore year they started talking about me playing in the NFL possibly. Then obviously first-round draft pick. You just never know. There’s so many things that have to go right. You got to stay healthy. You got to make, for the most part, right decisions off the field. You got to do a lot of things right. Fortunately for me I surrounded myself with a lot of really good people who helped me get to this process and get through this process.”

Watch more reaction from Urlacher in the video above.