Jan/02/13 12:03 AM Filed in: Devin Hester
Record-setting Chicago Bears wide receiver and returner Devin Hester was devastated by the news Monday morning that Lovie Smith was fired as coach, and said he is contemplating retirement from the game.
Hester, who blamed media and fans for Smith’s removal after nine seasons, was visibly crushed by the news as he cleaned out his locker at Halas Hall following a brief team meeting in which Smith addressed his players.
“We already knew what the news was,” Hester said. “Just hearing it from him. The media, the false fans, you all got what you all wanted. Majority of you all wanted him out. As players, we wanted him in. I guess the false fans outruled us. I thought he was a great coach, probably one of the best coaches I have ever been around. He brought me in.”
Hester, 30, said he is going to return home and isn’t interested in tracking a coaching search general manager Phil Emery has already launched.
“I don’t even know if I want to play again, man,” Hester said. “You know, that’s been on my mind for two years now.
“It’s not (as much fun anymore). It ain’t. So, I have my workers’ comp papers in my pocket. See how I feel, go home and talk to my wife, my family. See where we go from there. I’ve got two beautiful kids, man, young. Two boys. A lot of stress has been on my mind lately.”
Asked to clarify the workers’ comp issue, Hester said, he is “not (injured) physically, but mentally. I have had injuries here or there. That is part of football. Who walks away from this game without being injured.”
The Bears missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six years after winning their season finale at Detroit 26-24 on Sunday to finish 10-6. But when the Minnesota Vikings toppled the Green Bay Packers 37-34 in the late afternoon game, the Bears were knocked out of the postseason, a journey that perhaps could have saved Smith’s job.
Hester struggled as a return man this season and had his role reduced on offense. He was pressing to break a big return and while that didn’t happen, the Bears still enjoyed among the best average starting field position in the NFL because of the threat of Hester on kickoff returns.
He averaged 25.9 yards on kickoff returns and 8.3 yards on punts while making 23 receptions for 242 yards and one touchdown.
“Not being able to showcase my talent the way I want it to be showcased, stressful,” Hester said. “I feel like I have done enough in the league where I established myself to be one of the elite players ever to play the game. God blessed me for seven years. The average years of an NFL player is about three. I made some accomplishments on my own, some goals I reached. Some more goals are out there I still felt I could achieve.”
Hester said he would consider playing elsewhere and joining Smith on another team, but that “at the same time, I am a Bear for life. This is where I was born and raised from the start of football.”