Is Hester the most dominant specialist in the history of sports?
There isn’t a cooler athlete in the world then Devin Hester. It’s almost impossible to fully appreciate what he’s done since coming to the Bears. He makes even the NFL’s biggest athletic freaks look like mortals. Consider Brian Urlacher, a homegrown linebacker with a terrifying combination of size and speed who has been one of the NFL’s best defenders since the Bears drafted him. Next to Hester, Urlacher looks like just another guy. Urlacher is Carlton to Hester’s Will, Squints to Hester’s Benny ‘the jet’ Rodriguez, and Potsy to Hester’s Arthur Fonzarelli. That for a guy who’s a five-time Pro Bowler, a one time Defensive Player of the Year, and has one of the league’s highest selling jerseys every year.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the things Hester has accomplished in his time as a professional:
Not bad for someone who has only been in the NFL for a year and a half.
When you consider Hester’s dominance at his position, no one is even close. Sure Tom Brady is great but so is Peyton Manning. Randy Moss has had an outstanding season, but so has Terrell Owens. Who is Hester’s main competition for league’s best return man? Dante Hall is past his prime, so maybe it’s Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs or Jerome Mathis of the Texans. But neither of those guys are on the same planet as Hester who makes 80-yard touchdowns look like nothing.
So the question has to be asked: Is Hester the most dominating specialist in the history of sports. I wouldn’t say he’s the best specialist ever, because a certain level of longevity has to be sustained to say that. But Hester’s incredible impact on every game he has ever played means he just may be the most dominating.
To clear things up first, here is what I would consider a specialist in sports: a kicker, punter, or return man in football, a closer in baseball, a 3-point shooter, shot blocker or rebounder in basketball. I wouldn’t include designated hitters because in baseball everyone has to swing the bat.
It’s hard to believe anyone has ever been as dominating as Hester over a similar time period. Eric Gagne’s 84 consecutive save streak is impressive, and I’m sure Brian could come up some absurd Mariano Rivera stats from earlier in his career. Dennis Rodman and Dikembe Mutombo have to be considered as well. Neither player ever scored a lot (although I was surprised to see Mutombo averaged over 16 points per game his rookie season), but they each did one thing exceptionally well. For Mutombo, it was blocking shots, averaging more then three swats per game during his prime and even blocking 4.5 shots per game one season. No one has ever rebounded better then Rodman, grabbing 18.7 boards per game one season and averaging more then 14.5 rebounds per game seven times.
Still, I’ll take Hester over all of them. Let’s just hope he stays healthy. Getting hurt isn’t very cool.