For the past eight years, millions of Chicago Bears fans were lucky enough to see the greatest return specialist in the history of the NFL. Now, it appears that witnessing such greatness in the Windy City is coming to an end. This past Wednesday, Devin Hester stated that he and the Bears’ organization are going to part ways this offseason.
Hester, who will officially be an unrestricted free agent on March 11, broke the news on the NFL Network, and later left this message for all Bears fans on Facebook:
“To all my Chicago people, I can’t thank you enough for my time in Chicago. I’ve always said I wanted to retire a Chicago Bear but sometimes things don’t work out the way we would like. Chicago will always hold a special place in my heart and if I am fortunate enough to break the return record, we will have all broken it together no matter where I am. Thank you again and God bless.”
Hester is only one touchdown return away from setting a new NFL all-time touchdown return record. Just the thought of seeing Hester accomplishing this feat wearing anything other than a Bears uniform will be heartbreaking. If you don’t think so, ask any Buffalo Bills fan who had to observe Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith break the all-time sack record in a Washington Redskins uniform.
The Bears’ decision to not re-sign Hester hasn’t just left a bad taste in the mouths of the Chicago faithful. Former Bear and ex-teammate Brian Urlacher expressed his feelings about the front office’s lack of devotion towards Hester. Thursday, Urlacher spoke on the subject with FoxSports.com.
“It’s just the loyalty factor,” said Urlacher. “It’s just not there. He should be a guy that retires as a Bear.”
I understand what Urlacher is saying, but I don’t think loyalty has anything to do with it. Everyone has to remember who the general manager and head coach was during the careers of Hester and Urlacher. If Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith were still GM and head coach respectively at this time, then I would say that Urlacher has a valid point. However, Phil Emery is the GM, and Marc Trestman is the coach, neither of which has not invested any significant time with Hester.
Regardless of whether loyalty plays a factor, the fact remains that the absence of Hester from the Bears’ roster will be greatly felt all across the board. As a team, the Bears will no longer have the “Hester effect,” giving good field position to the offense. And most of all, every single Bears fan will be on the outside looking in when Hester finally breaks that all-time record.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.