Devin Hester didn’t take long to become one of the most beloved Chicago Bears in history. Through his first two years, he delivered 12 touchdowns on punt and kick returns. He was a human highlight reel who struck fear in the hearts of every opponent the Bears faced. It also turns out that ability and his personality made him the dream of a head coach.
Jon Greenberg of The Athletic revealed that former coach Lovie Smith apparently had a deep love of Hester. One that almost made him like another son. The young returner seemed to always get preferential treatment and nobody could break Smith’s concrete stare other than him. The relationship got to such a point that Hester was teased mercilessly about it.
Then his teammates took it a step further by hilariously weaponizing it against incoming Bears rookies.
“One of (Smith’s) kids came up to me once and said, ‘The only time I see my daddy smile is when you make a big play and run back a kickoff or punt,’” Hester said.
Hester couldn’t stop laughing as he remembered the ribbing he would take from his teammates.
“They used to tell the rookies before practice, ‘Listen, y’all rookies, if one of you trips Devin and makes him fall, you’re going to get cut,’” he said.
Devin Hester was so good he could get anybody excited
Hester knows he may not have been a full-time star like others, but he believes he’s one of the greatest entertainers the NFL has ever and will ever see. There is no arguing that. Smith may have been a stern coach with strong Christian values out of Texas, but he is a football fan at heart. Even he can’t hide the thrill of seeing Hester do his thing.
Hell, even opponents made sure they were up on the sideline every time he fielded a kick or punt. What the man did was rare and special. It’s also likely to never be seen again. That Smith had a front row seat for all of it? He probably understood even at the time that he was witnessing greatness. Getting to know a player like that intimately? It’s little wonder he treated Hester like a son.