Devin Hester and three of his long-time Bears teammates are among 122 Modern-Era Nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2022.
Joining the record-breaking return specialist are center Olin Kreutz, linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman. The list of Modern-Era nominees will be reduced to 25 Semifinalists in November and 15 Finalists in January.
During a meeting prior to the Super Bowl, the Selection Committee will trim the Modern-Era Finalists from 15 to 10, and then from 10 to five. Each of the remaining five will be voted on, with an 80 percent "yes" vote required for enshrinement.
In his first year of eligibility, 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 by the Associated Press and ESPN.
Kreutz and Briggs are Modern-Era Nominees for the third straight year, while Tillman is in the group for the second consecutive year.
Kreutz was chosen by the Bears in the third round of the 1998 draft out of Washington. He was voted to six Pro Bowls during his 13 seasons in Chicago from 1998-2010, anchoring the offensive line while winning four division championships and one conference title. The Washington product appeared in 191 games with 183 starts with the Bears, one shy of Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton's franchise record.
Tillman and Briggs were picked by the Bears in the second and third rounds of the 2003 draft, respectively.
Tillman played his first 12 NFL seasons with the Bears from 2003-14 before spending his final year with the Carolina Panthers. He was part of a dominant defense that helped the Bears win three NFC North titles and one conference championship. He set team records with nine defensive touchdowns, eight interception return TDs and 675 interception return yards. His 36 interceptions are the most by a cornerback in team history and third most overall behind safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37).
Known for smacking the ball away from opponents, a technique dubbed the "Peanut Punch," Tillman forced 42 fumbles in 12 seasons, including a career-high 10 in 2012 when he was voted to his second straight Pro Bowl.
Briggs was selected to seven Pro Bowls while spending his entire 12-year NFL career in Chicago from 2003-14. He appeared in 173 games with 170 starts, recording 1,566 tackles, 15 sacks, 16 interceptions and 18 forced fumbles. His six defensive touchdowns are third most in Bears history and his five interception return TDs are second most. Briggs was the first linebacker in NFL history to return an interception for a touchdown in each of his first three seasons.
Other Modern-Era nominees for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2022 who played for the Bears but spent most of their careers with other teams include defensive end Jared Allen, guard Ruben Brown, quarterback Dave Krieg and receiver Muhsin Muhammad.