Even if Devin Hester leads the NFL in kick returns or adds to his all-time touchdown record, the only way he’ll go to the Pro Bowl this season is by buying a ticket to the game.
As part of radical changes to the Pro Bowl, the NFL announced Wednesday that kickoffs will be eliminated from the game and return specialists no longer will be part of the all-star teams.
As you’d expect, Hester isn’t very happy about the decision. The eight-year veteran, who holds the NFL’s all-time record with 17 kick return touchdowns, will be used exclusively as a return specialist this year after doubling as a receiver the previous six seasons.
“It’s something that my family looks forward to every year as well as me preparing and training,” said Hester, who has been selected to three Pro Bowls since joining the Bears in 2006.
“As a returner, that’s a goal that you set. If you don’t make the Super Bowl, then hopefully you have something else that you can fall back on and say, ‘I accomplished that.’ As far as taking it out, it [stinks]. For a person like me that’s only doing returns, it’s one less goal I have to [achieve].”
Eric Weems, who returned 13 kickoffs for the Bears last season and was voted to the Pro Bowl as a special teams player with the Falcons in 2010, feels Hester’s pain.
“That’s ridiculous if you ask me,” Weems said. “I thought everyone had equal opportunity. If a guy shows that he’s one of the top kick returners or punt returners in the league, he should have the opportunity to go to the Pro Bowl. That’s a third of the game gone.
“I’m very shocked by it, and I can see why Hester’s upset also. That’s what he’s doing out here. That’s him. That’s his DNA. If he returns six or seven kicks for touchdowns, he needs to go to the Pro Bowl, regardless of any situation. I’m shocked by it. That’s ridiculous.”
Tags: Devin Hester, Eric Weems
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