With Devin Hester’s career all but over after he announced that last Saturday’s game loss with the Seattle Seahawks against the Atlanta Falcons would be his last, it’s time to start looking forward to his potential Hall of Fame candidacy in five years.
And while there’s always been debate surrounding his chances for induction, given that he was primarily a special-teamer that didn’t play every snap, at least one high profile name thinks that Hester deserves the honor, even if it means he has to wait a year.
In response to a tweet about whether he or Hester should make the Hall of Fame first, legendary Carolina Panthers/Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. didn’t hesitate to throw his support behind put the former Bears standout:
— Steve Smith Sr (@89SteveSmith) January 17, 2017
That’s a pretty cool gesture from a guy who finished his career with 1,031 catches, 14, 731 yards, and 81 receiving touchdowns to go along with six return touchdowns (4 punt, 2 KR) of his own.
Obviously, Smith isn’t in control of what happens with Hester’s Hall of Fame bid, as writers will ultimately decide his worthiness. This, as mentioned before, tends to work against career-special teamers, as their contributions are often viewed as less valuable than position players.
That said, it’s really hard to ignore 20 combined touchdowns (14 punts, 5 KR, 1 missed FG), which dwarfs numbers put up by other return men and even surpassed the most combined non-offensive TDs over a career set by Hester’s idol Deion Sanders (19). Whenever he touched the football, he provided memories for us all in the biggest moments.
Think about this: Hester’s 14 punt return TDs equal the amount of combined kick and punt returns the second-most prolific return man, Bobby Mitchell, put together in his career. And with the kick return phasing out of the game, Hester’s records may be almost impossible to reach.
And when you see players like Smith speak out in Hester’s favor, you can tell that his contemporaries appreciate the dynamic presence and playmaking ability that he brought to the game.
I’m sure Smith’s not the only one who will stump for Hester when his name comes up. One can only hope the voters are paying attention.
So, much respect to one of the most respected competitors in the modern NFL, Steve Smith, Sr., for recognizing real the way he does.
And, in fairness, let’s appreciate what Agent 89, who deserves to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer himself and will be inducted at some point no matter what, brought to the game. Here’s hoping we see both guys in Canton someday.