Over the offseason, thousands of fans voted in our "Team For the Ages" contest to construct the best imaginable 50-man roster from the NFL’s modern era, which began in 1967. The votes have been counted, and we’re unveiling one player each weekday between now and the kickoff of the 2018 NFL season.
The entire Team For the Ages roster will be unveiled at "Football Legends LIVE!" Sept. 8 in Crystal Lake, Ill. Tickets are on sale now: https://shawmediaevents.com/e/pfw50
RS Devin Hester
Devin Hester is arguably the only player in NFL history of whom we can say he was unquestionably the best ever at what he did.
Tom Brady may be the GOAT, but more than a few folks will still argue Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers or someone else was the greatest quarterback ever.
When it comes to running backs, many will argue for Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders or someone else.
But there is almost no debate that Hester was the greatest kick returner in the history of the game. As a result, Hester is the runaway choice as the return specialist on Pro Football Weekly's “Team For The Ages.”
They said it
Hester’s 2006 rookie season was also Rod Marinelli’s first year as the head coach of the Detroit Lions. In ’07, Marinelli was asked in the week leading up to a Bears game how he would defend Hester.
“Kick the ball into Lake Michigan and make sure it sinks to the bottom."
He was a Bear from 2006 through 2013, played for the Falcons in 2014-2015 and had stops in Baltimore and Seattle in 2016 before retiring as a Bear, and Hester holds almost every significant NFL return record -- including 20 total return touchdowns, 14 punt return touchdowns and most non-offense touchdowns in a season with six, which he did twice.
Did you know?
Mike Pereira of Fox was the NFL’s head of officiating during Hester’s years with the Bears and claimed that Hester was responsible for a 132 percent increase in kickoffs being kicked out of bounds in 2007 as teams began to try and figure out ways from keeping Hester from beating them.
Hester’s mentors throughout his career were Deion Sanders and Ed Reed. A Miami Hurricane alum like Reed, Hester was introduced to Sanders by Reed, and in deference to his close relationship with “Prime Time,” Hester was nicknamed “Anytime” at Miami and copied Sanders’ touchdown dance when he arrived in Chicago.
The Bears were still the defending NFC champs during Week 12 of the 2007 season, when former Bears punter Todd Sauerbrun, then with the Broncos, pronounced boldly he would refuse to kick the ball away from Hester in their upcoming Sunday night meeting at Soldier Field.
Hester responded by returning 5 punts for 81 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown, five kickoffs for 151 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown, as the Bears rallied from a 34-20 second-half deficit to win the game, 37-34 in overtime.
Previous "Team for the Ages" player announcements