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Hester not part of Hall of Fame's Class of 2023


Former Bears star Devin Hester will have to wait at least one more year to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In his second year of eligibility, the record-breaking return specialist was not chosen as part of the Class of 2023 that was announced Thursday night during a live broadcast of "NFL Honors" in Arizona, site of Sunday's Super Bowl between the Eagles and Chiefs.

The Class of 2023 is comprised of modern-era honorees Ronde Barber, Darrelle Revis, Joe Thomas, Zach Thomas and DeMarcus Ware; coach/contributor Don Coryell; and senior candidates Chuck Howley, Joe Klecko and Ken Riley.

On Jan. 8, Hester was chosen as one of 15 modern-era finalists for the second straight year.

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.

As a rookie, Hester returned a punt 84 yards for a TD in his first NFL game in a 26-0 rout of the Packers; lifted the Bears to a stunning 24-23 comeback victory over the Cardinals with a late 83-yard punt return TD; returned a missed field goal 108 yards for a TD in a win over the Giants; and set a single-game franchise record with 225 kickoff return yards in a victory 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 Hall of Fame's Class of 2023 will be enshrined in August in Canton, Ohio. The Bears have 30 individuals inducted in the Hall of Fame, the most of any NFL team.