Perhaps the best return man ever to play on a professional football field, Devin Hester, announced his retirement from the NFL on Tuesday via social media:
The 35-year-old, who couldn't find work as a free agent this year, finishes his career with 14 punt returns for touchdowns and six touchdowns on kickoff returns. The NFL's career leader in combined kickoff,and punt returns for touchdowns amassed a staggering 11,028 yards on special teams over an incredible 11-year career with the Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, and Seattle Seahawks.
The future Hall of Famer most recently took to the field with the Seahawks during the playoffs last year, and strongly hinted towards hanging up his cleats following Seattle's failed run. He was named a Pro Bowler four times (2006, 2007, 2010, 2014) and was also elected to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team. His ability to find gaps between defenders on the field was unprecedented, leaving opposing teams no choice but to avoid kicking to him in his prime.
Hester's announcement prompted many former coaches and players to take to social media to congratulate him an outstanding career, including his former coach, Lovie Smith.
Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who idolized Hester when he played collegiate football for the Miami Hurricanes, also took to Twitter to share his fond memories of the untouchable return man.
"When I was in HS, I was a huge Canes fan and I saw Devin Hester in the ATL airport one time," Watt tweeted. "1st time ever asking someone famous for a photo. He was cool, took the photo and it was awesome. Congrats on a great career @D-Hest23 and thanks for the memories!"
Hester, unfortunately, never won a title, but he did return the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XlI 92 yards for a touchdown and set the Bears up with an early 7-0 lead. However, the Bears were unable to match the Indianapolis Colts throughout the game and ended up losing, 29-17.
Hester will be eligible for nomination for the Hall of Fame in five years.
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