Bears part ways with return specialist Hester
Hester to become free agent March 11
"For the past eight seasons we have been honored to have Devin Hester as a part of our organization," Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery said Thursday in a statement. "While Devin has redefined the pinnacle standard of the return position in the NFL, the memories and contributions he has given us cannot be measured by stats or numbers.
"Not only is Devin a special player, he is also an exceptional person. He is a great teammate, husband and father. Devin represented the organization off-the-field as well as he did on it. When his career is over, he will always be a welcome member of the Bears family. We thank him for his dedication and wish him and his family all the best."
Hester, 31, is the NFL's all-time leader in punt return touchdowns (13) and total kick return touchdowns (18). Including his 108-yard missed field goal return touchdown, Hester's 19 overall return touchdowns are tied with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders for the most in regular-season history. When adding Hester's 92-yard kickoff return touchdown to open Super Bowl XLI, his 20 overall return touchdowns (including the postseason) are an NFL record.
In 123 games played (46 starts) over eight seasons (2006-13), Hester's 3,241 punt return yards are eighth most in NFL history and his 12.3 punt return average ranks fifth. He is the franchise's all-time leader in total return touchdowns, punt return touchdowns, punt return yards, kickoff return yards (5,504), total kick return yards (8,745) and second in all-purpose yards (11,632). Hester's 2,807 receiving yards are 18th most in Bears annals and his 217 receptions are 14th.
A three-time Pro Bowler (2006, 2007 and 2010 seasons), Hester was named to the 2000's All-decade team by the Associated Press and ESPN.
Hester, who will become an unrestricted free agent March 11, was named the rookie recipient of the team's 2006 Brian Piccolo Award, which is voted on by Bears players for the teammate they feel best exemplifies the courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication and sense of humor of the late Brian Piccolo.
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