Devin Hester is the latest big addition to the Bears100 Celebration Weekend.
The record-breaking return specialist will appear at the June 7-9 event at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont to help the Bears celebrate their 100th season.
Hester will sign autographs and join former teammates Charles Tillman, Olin Kreutz, Roberto Garza and Patrick Mannelly on a special panel to discuss the 2006 team that reached the Super Bowl by winning the franchise’s first NFC championship since 1985.
Hester was a rookie in 2006 when the Bears captured their second straight NFC North title under coach Lovie Smith, compiling a 13-3 record. The dynamic second-round pick from Miami set an NFL single-season record by returning five kicks for touchdowns.
Hester followed by becoming the first player in league history to return the opening kickoff of a Super Bowl for a touchdown, dashing 92 yards to give the Bears a 7-0 lead in an eventual 29-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
It was just the beginning of an illustrious career for Hester, who in eight seasons with the Bears became the NFL’s all-time leader with 18 kick return touchdowns and 13 punt return TDs. He 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.
Tillman was selected by the Bears in the second round of the 2003 draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette. He made an immediate impact, becoming a starter four games into his rookie season and quickly developing into a star playmaker.
Tillman set Bears 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).
Kreutz was voted to six Pro Bowls in 13 seasons with the Bears from 1998-2010, anchoring the offensive line while winning four division championships. The Washington product appeared in 191 games with 183 starts, one shy of Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton’s franchise record.
Garza spent 10 seasons with the Bears, starting all 16 games in seven of those seasons. Durable and versatile, Garza played guard during his first six years with the team before switching to center following Kreutz’s departure.
A 1998 sixth-round draft pick out of Duke, Mannelly played his entire career with the Bears, setting franchise records for most seasons (16) and games (245). A model of excellence and consistency throughout his career, he helped the Bears win division championships in 2001, 2005, 2006 and 2010.
Other panels at the Bears100 Celebration Weekend will feature Hall of Fame middle linebackers Dick Butkus, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher; and quarterbacks Jim McMahon and Mitchell Trubisky.
The Bears100 Celebration will feature the ultimate gathering of Bears fans and current and former players. The entire 2019 team and coaching staff, along with Bears Hall of Famers and alumni, are scheduled to attend. The weekend will include free autograph sessions, photo opportunities, panels, memorabilia and merchandise sales, interactive games, kids activities and a walk-though Bears history zone.
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