Advice for Devin Hester: Stop the showboating

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11666433092721.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of’, ‘Chicago Bears rookie return specialist Devin Hester returns one of his two kickoffs for a touchdown during the Monday night, Dec. 11, game at the St. Louis Rams.’);

If you’ve had the opportunity to watch ESPN recently, you’ve no doubt caught some of the hype surrounding Devin Hester. If you don’t have cable or satellite, allow me to fill you in.

Hester is the rookie return specialist for the Chicago Bears. The network’s pundits are touting him as a possible candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year. They are mentioning him in the same breath as Vince Young, quarterback for the Tennessee Titans, and Reggie Bush, running back for the New Orleans Saints.

At press time, Hester has already set an NFL record with six return touchdowns in a season. He is one of only six players in the history of the league to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in one game. On a missed field goal attempt earlier this year, he tied his teammate, Nathan Vasher, for the longest return for a touchdown in NFL history. He has been named NFC Special Team Player of the Week twice this season.

In the Monday night game against the St. Louis Rams, Hester set a team record for kickoff return yards. In the second quarter, he ran one back 94 yards for a score. During the fourth quarter, he scored again on a 96-yard return. He added another 35 yards on punt returns for a total of 225 yards. Former Bears’ returner Nate Lewis had held the record since 1994, when he had 221 yards in returns during a game against the Minnesota Vikings.

All of those accomplishments certainly deserve the consideration and accolades Hester is receiving. However, I have some constructive criticism I’d like to throw his way. Maybe instead of criticism I should just call it advice. That way, I don’t risk harming his overly enlarged ego. STOP THE HOTDOGGING! It’s totally unnecessary.

Everyone who knows anything about football can tell you are a gifted athlete with great speed and excellent field recognition. To gain attention, you don’t need to pose as you cross the goal line or taunt a slower player chasing you. Let your skill and natural ability do your talking.

As a Bears fan, I would much rather continue to hear you mentioned with Young and Bush instead of hearing your name in the same breath as Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Deion Sanders. Here’s hoping you don’t fall into that trap!

For you to get my vote (if I had one) for the prestigious NFL Rookie of the Year Award, you’d have to stop the silly showboating. Not only is it unnecessary: in my opinion, it’s also unprofessional and unbecoming.


Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

From the Dec. 20-26, 2006, issue

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