Aug/30/15 10:15 PM Filed in: Devin Hester
A part of Devin Hester wanted to end his NFL career in familiar territory; in a place where his family and friends could make the short drive down I-95 south or the Florida Turnpike to Sun Life Stadium.
The Riviera Beach, Florida, native and former Miami Hurricane figured a return home would be an option when the Chicago Bears decided not to re-sign him after the 2013 season.
And it was.
"I just wanted to get out of the cold, really," Hester said with a laugh. "At the end of the day, Miami was a team I considered going to. My agent said they contacted us to ask how the process was going. It was tempting, but it didn't work out."
Instead, the most accomplished kick returner in NFL history signed a three-year deal in March 2014 with the Atlanta Falcons worth $3 million per year. And he has no regrets about the decision.
"I'm happy here," Hester said. "I was ready to move on."
Saturday's preseason road matchup (7 p.m. ET) with the Dolphins is sure to spark memories for Hester. He'll walk into the same place -- formerly known as Dolphin Stadium -- where he created the most memorable moment of his illustrious, 10-year career. It's the same place he returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI against the Colts.
"It was my rookie year, and just being able to come back after you play your last college game in Miami -- you don't expect to come back to the same area," Hester said. "I'm pretty sure a lot of Hurricane fans were at the Super Bowl. And just to go out there at home and run the opening kickoff back, it just didn't hit me. It was too good to be true.
"It really didn't set in on me until after the game when everybody was talking about it and couldn't believe what happened. And then I started thinking about it and said, `Yeah, it was a big play.'"
Hester had just five family members at the Super Bowl. Saturday, he'll have about 20 people coming to see him back at home, including his wife and two sons.
"We're going to treat it like a home game," he said.
Hester purchased a home in Orlando more than two years ago. He never considered living in Miami after he got married.
"Miami was fun, during the single life," Hester said. "When you start having kids, you not only look for what makes you happy but what's going to be better for the kids. And Orlando is a decision we made for our kids.
"My wife's family is still in Miami. My family is in West Palm Beach. It's all still home."