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Hester tabbed as Hall of Fame semifinalist


Former Bears star Devin Hester on Wednesday was named one of 26 modern-era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2022.

The record-breaking return specialist is one of seven first-year eligible players, joining receivers Anquan Boldin, Andre Johnson and Steve Smith; defensive linemen Robert Mathis and Vince Wilfork; and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

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.

The 26 semifinalists will be pared down to 15 finalists in January. The Hall of Fame Selection Committee will then reduce the list to 10 and then to five. Each of the remaining five will be voted on, with an 80 percent "yes" vote required for enshrinement. In addition to the modern-era finalists will be senior finalist Cliff Branch, contributor finalist Art McNally and coach finalist Dick Vermeil.

The Hall of Fame's Class of 2022 will be revealed during a live airing of NFL Honors at 8 p.m. (CT) Thursday, Feb. 10, three days before the Super Bowl.

Other modern-era semifinalists include running backs Eddie George, Fred Taylor and Ricky Watters; receivers Torry Holt, Hines Ward and Reggie Wayne; tackles Willie Anderson and Tony Boselli; defensive end Jared Allen; defensive tackles Richard Seymour and Bryant Young; linebackers Sam Mills, Zach Thomas and Patrick Willis; cornerbacks Eric Allen and Ronde Barber; safeties LeRoy Butler and Darren Woodson; and special-teamer Steve Tasker.

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

Take a look at each of the 32 players in franchise history to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the most of any team in the NFL.