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Return man extraordinaire Devin Hester announced his retirement from the NFL this week. Having played 11 years, Hester finished his career as owner of the following records:

  • Combined special teams return touchdowns, career: 20 (14 punts, 5 kickoffs, 1 missed field goal)
  • Most non-offensive touchdowns, career: 20
  • Combined special teams return touchdowns, career: 20 (14 punts, 5 kickoffs, 1 missed field goal)
  • Most kickoff and punt return touchdowns, career: 19
  • Punt return touchdowns, career: 14
  • Punt return touchdowns, season: 4 (2007)
  • Kickoff return touchdowns, game (record is shared with many other players): 2 (Chicago Bears vs. St. Louis Rams, December 11, 2006)
  • Combined return touchdowns, season: 6 (2007) (4 punts, 2 kickoffs)
  • Combined return touchdowns, rookie, season: 5 (2006) (3 punts, 2 kickoffs)
  • Combined return touchdowns, game: 2
    • 2, Chicago Bears vs. St. Louis Rams, December 11, 2006 (2 kickoffs)
    • 2, Chicago Bears vs. Denver Broncos, November 25, 2007 (1 punt, 1 kickoff)
  • Non-offensive touchdowns, season: 6, twice
    • 6, 2006 (3 punts, 2 kickoffs, 1 missed field goal)
    • 6, 2007 (4 punts, 2 kickoffs)

This list of achievements is quite impressive, however, do they equate to entrance into Canton? Take the following statistics into consideration from players at the wide receiver position:

Player A

Games: 159

Average: 129

Receptions: 750

Yards: 11,904

Yards Per Reception: 15.9

Touchdowns: 65

 

Player B

Games: 114

Average: 77

Receptions: 731

Yards: 9,686

Yards Per Reception: 13.5

Touchdowns: 59

 

Of these two, one is a retired Hall of Famer with the other being an active player. If you are a diehard statistician then you probably already know the stats belonging to “Player A” are those of Michael Irvin, former Dallas Cowboys receiver. The stats attributable to “Player B” belong to Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, arguably the best receiver in the game today. While Brown’s body of work has yet to be completed, his numbers at present aren’t too far off from those of Irvin’s, who is enshrined in Canton. Additionally, if he can avoid injury, Brown’s final tally will probably exceed those we see Irvin having achieved. Obviously this is but one precedent but with Hester having numbers that stand alone (with the exception of the shared record), he should be a shoo-in for a gold jacket fitting. Shouldn’t he?

There are some who feel as if he was “just” a specialist and thus doesn’t belong in Canton. On the other hand, there are those who feel like he stepped between the white lines, did his job, performed at a level that garnered multiple records and he should be rewarded with a Hall of Fame bust. Put me in the latter category. I feel that, specialist or not, Hester put it on the line and was able to excel thus earning the privilege of being recognized as a Hall of Fame player.

Now that Hester has officially retired, the five-year clock begins to tick. In 2022 we should get the news about those who are in consideration for the Hall of Fame. Will Devin Hester’s name be on that list and if so, will he make the final cut? Only time will tell.

Lloyd Dotson

Author Lloyd Dotson

I am a self-published author from Atlanta, GA. Love to write, love sports. Enough said.

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Sports Al Dente 2019

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