Fantasy Football News

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hester Already Lock for Hall of Fame?

There's a couple of problems with the National Football League nowadays that I think are fixable, but the biggest one by far is the lack of recognition of special teams.

Commissioner Roger Goodell made a rule change this season that moved the kickoff up five yards, impacting kick returners greatly. It hasn't completely ruled out the kick return game, but there's been a huge difference between the 2010 regular season and this regular season.

Last season the Atlanta Falcons were the team with the lowest total kick returns, at 46. Through 10 weeks in 2011, the leader in kick returns is the New York Jets who have only returned 34 kicks. The touchdown totals have taken a huge hit as well, going from 23 in an entire season down to just six in 10 weeks. The NFL is on pace for less than 12 this season.

That's why it's great to see a guy like Devin Hester come back to life the last two seasons after going two years without getting in to the end zone.

Hester, 28, has already solidified his name in the record books in just his sixth professional season with the Chicago Bears. Though most of his big play impact has come in the punt return game, which has not had a rule change, Hester is still one of the few bright spots left in the special teams game.
The three-time Pro Bowler and All Pro holds the record for most punt return touchdowns (12 on just 193 career returns). What makes it an even more remarkable feat is the fact that Eric Metcalf, whose 10 PR TDs is second most all-time, returned 351 punts over 13 seasons in the league. Brian Mitchell, third all-time in the category, has returned 463 over 14 seasons (only 9 career PR TDs).

It's not only the touchdown totals that has Hester turning heads and causing opposing special teams coaches shaking in their shoes, but it's the amount of time he has accomplished all of this. Punters are advised to kick away from Hester the Great, yet somehow the ball always ends up in his hands, and eventually in the end zone for six points.

A discussion has recently come up on NFL.com in which writers debated whether or not he is a lock for Canton, OH at this stage in his career. While you could argue that he hasn't played long enough for him to be a lock, you could use that same argument to prove why he should already be a lock.

Special teams play a huge role in the game, whether or not you would like to admit that, so why shouldn't one of the scariest return men in the history of the league be inducted in to the Hall just because he isn't on offense for every snap.

Cleveland's Josh Cribbs and Seattle's Leon Washington, both active, are ahead of Hester on the KR touchdown list with eight and seven respectively. But Hester already has one this season and is bound to pass at least one of them at some point in his career as he currently sits at five.

Once again, Cribbs (323 KR attempts) and Washington (203) have reached the end zone more often, but Hester has achieved nearly as much on less attempts (131) and even has a better return average than Washington.

Want some physical evidence? Here's one of Hester's many highlight reels found on youtube.com.



Photo credit
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Video credit goes to youtube.com

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