Lovie Smith Shocked By Bears Legend Devin Hester’s Absurd Hall of Fame Snub

Devin Hester is one of the greatest players in Chicago Bears history and the greatest return specialist of all time. However, the four-time Pro Bowler missed the cut for the 2022 induction class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lovie Smith coached Hester for seven seasons in Chicago.

The new Houston Texans head coach assumed that his former player would’ve been a lock to make the most recent class and was surprised to learn he wasn’t. In a recent interview, Smith opened up on why the committee got it wrong.

Lovie Smith argues Devin Hester should’ve been a 1st-ballot Hall of Famer

Texans coach Lovie Smith looks on during a game; Bears returner Devin Hester reacts during game against the Eagles
Lovie Smith of the Houston Texans reacts during game against the Panthers | Bob Levey/Getty Images; Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears on the sidelines during game against the Eagles | Hunter Martin/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty Images

Houston Texans head coach Lovie Smith witnessed greatness firsthand when he coached Devin Hester on the Chicago Bears. He understood the value of special teams and believed that no player impacted the game in that department quite like Hester.

Smith recently joined The Rich Eisen Show to discuss his new gig in Houston. He also explained his reaction to the All-Pro return man getting snubbed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“How does the greatest returner of all time not get in the Hall of Fame?” Smith asked. “I’m having a hard time putting that all together.”

The former Bears coach marveled at how good Hester was with the football in his hands.

“Think about a guy from Florida who had never played in the cold,” said Smith. “He had as good of hands as you could possibly get. But from the moment he touched the ball, you knew he was going to do something special. You can win games with special teams.”

Devin Hester undoubtedly proved how critical special teams could be in the outcome of a game.

The Bears legend is the greatest return specialist of all time

Lovie Smith is right. Devin Hester is the greatest return specialist in the history of the game, and it’s not even close. The former Miami Hurricanes standout didn’t waste any time leaving his mark on the NFL.

The Chicago Bears selected Hester with the No. 57 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. As Smith tells it, the franchise was excited to land him, but it’s hard to believe the Bears expected him to be that good.

Hester hit the ground running in year one. He racked up 1,128 total return yards and five touchdowns en route to All-Rookie Team, Pro Bowl, and All-Pro honors.

The Riviera Beach, Florida native quickly established himself as one of the most electric playmakers in the league, regardless of position. Whenever he touched the ball, he was a legitimate threat to score.

Hester finished his 11-year career with 3,695 punt return yards, 7,333 kick return yards, and 19 combined touchdowns. There were good returners before and after him, but Hester changed the game in several ways.

Rule changes could ensure Hester’s records are safe

Devin Hester is responsible for one of the most iconic plays in Super Bowl history. The Chicago Bears faced the Indianapolis Colts in the 2007 Super Bowl. The three-time All-Pro was in the end zone for the opening kickoff. Indianapolis kicked a returnable ball, which Hester took to the house for a 92-yard score.

The epic play made Hester the first player in NFL history to return the opening kickoff for a touchdown in a Super Bowl. That was just one of many records the Bears star set during his outstanding career. Here are some other notable records he holds.

  • Most special teams touchdowns in a career (20)
  • Most non-offensive TDs in a career (20)
  • Fastest touchdown in Super Bowl history (14 seconds)
  • Most combined return touchdowns in a game (2, twice)

Hester was as dangerous of a returner as the league has ever seen. The NFL has made changes to kickoffs since he played. It moved the kickoff line of scrimmage up and deemed that touchbacks would allow the offense to start at the 25-yard line. Those changes incentivized kickers booting it out of the end zone.

Lovie Smith is glad he got the opportunity to witness Devin Hester have such a tremendous impact on special teams.

“The way the game is going now,” said Smith. “I just don’t think that there will ever be another like him.”

All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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