The Seattle Seahawks lost 36-20 to the Atlanta Falcons last night, but you can’t place any blame for the loss on Seahawks return man Devin Hester. His 50-yard kickoff return in the second quarter led to a field goal, and a few minutes later his 80-yard punt return was negated by a holding penalty. His 78-yard return late in the fourth quarter gave the Seahawks their final glimmer of hope.
It was a welcome return of an exciting and dominant Hester, but it was also likely that last we’ll see of him. After the game, Hester pretty much said he’s retiring:
Hester broke into the league in 2006 with five returns for touchdown, capped memorably by his touchdown to open the Super Bowl. The next season he had six returns for touchdown, and was increasingly avoided by kickers. But he couldn’t translate his elite speed into being an elite receiver, and eventually father time and cumulative effect of hundreds of tackles took their toll. He did manage to hang on much longer than most returners, and even made the 2015 Pro Bowl.
Devin Hester’s 20 special teams returns are the most in NFL history, and his six return touchdowns in 2007 are the most in a season. He is a Hall of Famer, though the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s bias against special teamers means that may well not happen. Hopefully last night won’t end up being Hester’s final game, but if it was, it was a fitting end.