On Tuesday, former Chicago Bear great Devin Hester was released by the Baltimore Ravens in the midst of his 10th NFL season. And though he has reportedly worked out for the New England Patriots, it seems clear that the 34-year-old playmaker’s career is on its last legs.
While it probably seems more fitting to wait until Hester officially retires to do one of these videos, my nostalgia can’t help but abound as the end is almost certainly at hand for Hester in the NFL. Beside, it’s never too early, or too late, to appreciate the “Windy City Flyer” and all of the incredible moments that he delivered to the Bears fans and franchise.
Also, the best part about Devin’s extensive catalog of game-changing plays is that everyone has their own personal favorites.
Here are mine:
5. Burning the Packers (2010)
From the last game of the 2007-2008 season to Week 3 of 2010, Hester had been in the midst of a stunning drought of return touchdowns after lighting up the league in his first two seasons.
Whether it was because he was taking on more responsibility as a receiver, was pressing too much, had been figured out by the league, or some combination of all of these, the electrifying return man simply couldn’t conjure up his accustomed magic.
Then, on a Monday Night primetime matchup with Bears down 10-7 to the Green Bay Packers, Hester exploded out suddenly to the joy of the Chicago crowd, helping spark the Bears to an unexpected victory over the Packers that helped springboard him to a resurgence season, and the team to a playoff berth.
4. “Devin Hester, You are Ridiculous!”
Hester didn’t exactly impress in his first ever NFL start at cornerback, but by the end this game against the (then) St. Louis Rams, he had made it painfully aware to the league that kicking him the ball under any circumstances (even on a fake onside kick) was a risk that was better left avoided.
3. The Record Breaker
Hester had been agonizingly close to setting the record for most combined kick and punt return touchdowns in a career earlier in 2010, getting tripped up from behind against the New England Patriots on a huge kick return and even coming within a few yards of scoring on a kick return in this Minnesota game.
Then, in 3rd quarter, he caught a punt, ran down the sideline untouched, and spread his arms as he glided into the end zone as the greatest kick returner in NFL history.
2. Completing the Comeback
Every last one of us who watched this game knew the Bears didn’t deserve to beat the Arizona Cardinals, particularly with Rex Grossman turning the ball over half a dozen times and the offense not accounting for a single point in 60 minutes of action.
Fortunately, the defense, and Hester, decided that they didn’t need offense that night.
After a strip sack from rookie sensation Mark Anderson and fumble return touchdown from Mike Brown (yeah, that was a thing once) followed by a fumble forced by Brian Urlacher and returned by Charles Tillman, the defense got another stop to force a punt with 3:17 left in the game.
Then, in the blink of an eye, Hester stole the show and the game, enhancing his growing legacy as one of the most exciting and explosive players in the game.
Also, RIP, Denny Green. And thank you for delivering a line for the ages.
1. The Super Bowl Return
On the biggest stage in American sports, Hester delivered the most incredible moment of his career.
And even though the Bears went on to lose the Super Bowl to the Indianapolis Colts, the first 14 seconds of Super Bowl XLI is still, without a doubt, the most exciting moment the Bears have experienced in more than 20 years and probably the most unbelievable moment in Chicago sports outside of the Cubs clinching the World Series.