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Forte, Hester to retire as Bears Monday


Former stars Devin Hester and Matt Forte will sign one-day contracts with the Bears Monday at Halas Hall and officially retire as members of the organization.

Both players were selected by the Bears in the second round of the NFL Draft—Hester in 2006 and Forte in 2008—and spent their first eight NFL seasons in Chicago.

Hester is considered by many to be the greatest return specialist in NFL history. During his career with the Bears, he became the league's all-time leader with 18 kick return touchdowns and 13 punt return TDs, 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.

With Devin Hester announcing his retirement from the NFL Tuesday, senior writer Larry Mayer ranks his top 10 most memorable plays of Hester???s career with the Bears.

While playing for the Bears, Hester also tied Hall of Famer Deion Sanders' career record of 19 return touchdowns—which includes punts, kickoffs, missed field goals, fumbles and interceptions—a mark Hester later broke in 2014 as a member of the Falcons.

After leaving the Bears following the 2013 season, Hester played for the Falcons (2014-15), Ravens (2016) and Seahawks (2016). In his final career game, he averaged 38.8 yards on five kickoff returns for Seattle in a playoff loss to the Falcons on Jan. 14, 2017.

Hester made an immediate impact as a Bears rookie in 2006, setting an NFL single-season record with five kick return touchdowns and then eclipsing the mark with six TDs in 2007.

Hester enjoyed a magical rookie season. He returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown in a 26-0 win over the Packers in his first NFL game; 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 the year 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 loss to the Colts.

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).

After playing sparingly at cornerback as a rookie, Hester was switched to receiver in 2007. Over the next six seasons he caught 217 passes for 2,807 yards and 14 touchdowns. His most productive season as a wideout came in 2009 when he had 57 receptions for 757 yards and three TDs.

After Matt Forte announced his retirement Wednesday, ranked the running back's 10 best games with the Bears.

Forte, meanwhile, ranks second on the Bears' all-time list behind Hall of Famer Walter Payton in rushing yards (8,602), receptions (487), receiving yards by a running back (4,116), yards from scrimmage (12,718), 100-yard rushing games (24) and games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage (25).

Forte led the Bears in rushing for eight straight seasons from 2008-15, the longest stretch since Payton was the team's top rusher for 12 consecutive seasons from 1975-86. Forte also became the second fastest player in NFL history to compile 8,000 yards rushing and 4,000 yards receiving behind only Marshall Faulk.

During his eight seasons with the Bears, Forte led all NFL players with 12,718 yards from scrimmage and ranked fourth with 8,602 yards rushing. He also topped all running backs with 487 receptions and 4,116 receiving yards.

In his first NFL game, Forte rushed for 123 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown in a 29-13 win over the Colts. He set a Bears single-season rookie rushing record that has since been broken by Jordan Howard with 1,238 yards.

In 2014, Forte established a single-season NFL mark for most receptions by a running back with 102, and he remains one of three running backs in league history to record at least 100 catches in a season, joining Larry Centers and LaDainian Tomlinson.

Forte, who spent his final two NFL seasons with the New York Jets, was a two-time recipient of the Bears' Brian Piccolo Award, the team's 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee and one of eight NFL finalists for the 2015 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award.

Through the Bears Care Auction in the free Chicago Bears Official App brought to you by Verizon, Bears fans can bid on a chance for four to attend Monday's retirement ceremony at Halas Hall, meet Hester and Forte and receive an autographed item.

All proceeds from the auction will benefit Bears Care, the charitable arm of the Bears that focuses on the quality of life for people in the Chicagoland community. Bears Care has issued grants totaling over $17.5 million to over 100 qualifying agencies since its inception in 2005.

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