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Devin Hester named Hall of Fame finalist

Hester-HOF-Final-WIDE

Former Bears star Devin Hester on Wednesday was selected as one of 15 modern-era finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2023.

Hester was selected as one of 15 finalists in his first year of eligibility last year, but he was not chosen as part of the Class of 2022.

Hester played eight of his 11 NFL seasons with the Bears. The most prolific return specialist in league history, he holds NFL records with 19 kick-return touchdowns, 14 punt-return TDs and 20 return touchdowns, which includes punts, kickoffs, missed field goals, fumbles and interceptions.

Selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2006 draft out of Miami, Hester was voted to three Pro Bowls, won 13 special teams player of the week awards and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 2000s.

Hester set an NFL single season record with five kick return touchdowns as a rookie in 2006 and then eclipsed the mark with six TDs in 2007.

With Devin Hester being named a finalist for the Hall of Fame Class of 2023, senior writer Larry Mayer ranks his top 10 most memorable plays of Hester's Bears career.

In addition to his punt-return TD against the Packers, as a rookie, Hester lifted the Bears to a stunning 24-23 comeback victory over the Cardinals with a late 83-yard punt return TD; and set a single-game franchise record with 225 kickoff return yards in a win over the Rams, including TDs of 94 and 96 yards.

Hester then capped his remarkable rookie season by becoming the first player in NFL history to return the opening kickoff of a Super Bowl for a touchdown, dashing 92 yards in an eventual 29-17 loss to the Colts.

In 2007, Hester returned four punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns. In a 37-34 overtime win over the Broncos, he scored TDs on a 75-yard punt return and 88-yard kickoff return.

Hester returned three punts for scores in 2010, two punts and one kickoff for TDs in 2011 and one punt for a touchdown in 2013. He remains the Bears' all-time leader in punt return yards (3,241), kickoff return yards (5,504), total kick return yards (8,745), punt returns (264) and kickoff returns (222).

The other 14 finalists are:
Jared Allen, defensive end
Willie Anderson, offensive tackle
Ronde Barber, defensive back
Dwight Freeney, defensive end/outside linebacker
Torry Holt, receiver
Andre Johnson, receiver
Albert Lewis, cornerback
Darrelle Revis, cornerback
Joe Thomas, offensive tackle
Zach Thomas, linebacker
DeMarcus Ware, linebacker/defensive end
Reggie Wayne, receiver
Patrick Willis, linebacker
Darren Woodson, safety

The finalists were determined by a vote of the Hall of Fame's Selection Committee from a list of 129 nominees named in September that was trimmed to 28 semifinalists Nov. 22.

The Hall of Fame's 49-person Selection Committee will reduce the list of finalists from 15 to 10 and then to five. Each of the remaining five will be voted on, with an 80 percent "yes" vote required for enshrinement—as is also the case for coach/contributor candidate Don Coryell and senior finalists Chuck Howley, Joe Klecko and Ken Riley.

The Hall of Fame's Class of 2023 will be announced live Feb. 9 on the "NFL Honors" telecast prior to Super Bowl LVII. The class will then be enshrined in August in Canton, Ohio.

The Bears have 30 individuals inducted in the Hall of Fame, the most of any NFL team.

Take a look at each of the 30 Bears who have been enshrined in Canton, the most of any team in the NFL.

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