Celebrating Devin Hester

On an NFL kickoff, when the ball reaches its apex then begins to descend-from that point to the moment it reaches the returner’s hands or hits the ground-how long does that take?  Two seconds?

In a game that was finally great to watch, one that began with a rare touchdown bomb between Jay Cutler and Devin Hester, I wanted to recount my thoughts for two seconds prior to Hester’s 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Literally within two seconds, watching the ball hit its apex and land in Hester’s hands just below my north end zone seats, my series of thoughts were:

- Wow-they are actually kicking to Hester!  It’s rare for a kickoff to not land deep in the end zone these days.  This is rare?

- Awesome-love every rare opportunity to see this guy return a kickoff.

- Hang on, self, just because Hester actually gets the ball on the two yard line doesn’t mean he’s going to come close to returning the kick 98 yards for a touchdown….don’t you realize how rare it really is to return a kickoff for a touchdown?

Boom….bam….he’s gone, the entire stadium is celebrating, and once again I am in awe of Devin Hester.

Someday I’ll have to go back and count the number of Hester return touchdowns I’ve been able to witness in person (including his amazing two-kickoff return TD night in St. Louis in 2006, which I was fortunate to witness in person).  But it occurred to me that I need to start celebrating how lucky I’ve been to once again watch a Chicago Bear that is better than anyone in NFL history at his position.

I was lucky to have been able to watch Walter Payton run for the final eight seasons of his career.  I knew at the time how special it was to watch Payton run, believe me.  But the perspective of a kid is much different than that of an adult at my age.  During Payton’s final season I was eager for the page to be turned; maybe I didn’t savor every last chance I had to watch him run.

After watching Bears teams being fielded with an overall dearth of talent for mush of the last 15-20 years, I am enjoying every moment I have to watch the all-time great kick returner play for my team.  I’ll be making sure to tell my son to appreciate what he’s seeing.

4 Responses to “Celebrating Devin Hester”

  1. “for mush of the last 15-20 years”

    Greatest…Freudian…slip…ever…

  2. DEVIN HESTER’S RETURN TOUCHDOWNS

    1) SEPTEMBER 10, 206 @ GREEN BAY—84 YARD PUNT RETURN
    2) OCTOBER 16, 2006 @ ARIZONA—83 YARD PUNT RETURN
    3) NOVEMBER 12, 2006 @ NEW YORK GIANTS—108 YARD MISSED FIELD GOAL RETURN
    4) DECEMBER 3, 2006 VS. VIKINGS—45 YARD PUNT RETURN
    5) DECEMBER 11, 2006 @ ST. LOUIS—94 YARD KICKOFF RETURN
    6) DECEMBER 11, 2006 @ ST. LOUIS—96 YARD KICKOFF RETURN
    7) FEBRUARY 4, 2007 SUPER BOWL XLI VS. COLTS—92 YARD KICKOFF RETURN
    8) SEPTEMBER 16, 2007 VS. CHIEFS—73 YARD PUNT RETURN
    9) SEPTEMBER 30, 2007 @DETROIT—97 YARD KICKOFF RETURN
    10) OCTOBER 14, 2007 VS. VIKINGS—89 YARD PUNT RETURN
    11) NOVEMBER 25, 2007 VS. BRONCOS—75 YARD PUNT RETURN
    12) NOVEMBER 25, 2007 VS. BRONCOS—88 YARD KICKOFF RETURN
    13) DECEMBER 30, 2007 VS. SAINTS—64 YARD PUNT RETURN
    14) SEPTEMBER 27, 2010 VS. PACKERS—62 YARD PUNT RETURN
    15) OCTOBER 17, 2010 VS. SEAHAWKS—89 YARD PUNT RETURN
    16) DECEMBER 20, 2010 @ MINNESOTA—64 YARD PUNT RETURN
    17) OCTOBER 2, 2011 VS. PANTHERS—69 YARD PUNT RETURN
    18) OCTOBER 16, 2011 VS. VIKINGS—98 YARD KICKOFF RETURN
    Feel free to count up which ones you have seen live.

  3. @Rob-thanks for pointing out my unintentional typo, I do these things shortly after I wake up. Gah!

    @MTS-Thanks for saving me the work!!

  4. and

    A majority of Devin Hester’s 18 career returns (counting his kickoff return in Super Bowl XLI and his return of a missed field goal against the Giants) have come in clutch situations. Of the 18, nine have either tied the score or given the Bears the lead; three of them provided the eventual game-winning points; and seven of them have come in the fourth quarter.

    Larry Mayer

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