Sunday, November 25, 2007

devin hester

Devin Hester has the ideal ad campaign all mapped out.

He envisions himself on a racetrack, lined up to run against his dream car―the blazing yellow Chevrolet Aero Camaro used in the "Transformers" movie and due out for the 2009 model year.

Hester vs. Horsepower has a nice ring to it.

"Yeah, some kind of crazy commercial that has to do with speed," he said. "That's my goal. And maybe I could get at least a couple of free cars or something for doing the commercial."

That's not a far-fetched fantasy.

"We would be happy to discuss such an opportunity with Devin Hester," said Terry Rhadigan, Chevrolet's director of communications. "We're honored that Devin would think of us."

When you're Devin Hester, opposing defenses aren't the only ones that want a piece of you.

The Bears have struggled on the field, but Hester continues to enjoy a meteoric celebrity rise off it.

The most dynamic return man in the history of the league is starting to put his face with his name.

"Devin is in a real interesting situation because he's coming off that rookie year in a fantastic market, but his challenge right now is the team's record," said Angela Manolakas, the NFLPA's assistant vice president for player marketing. "Right now, he's getting more attention from our NFL sponsor partners than any other guy on that team."

You will see Hester in a Campbell's Chunky Soup commercial with his mother, Juanita Brown, and a host of other players. You will catch a glimpse of him in the film room during a spot on the NFL Network. You might recall a solo shoot he did for Madden 2008, a video game on which he's the only player with a perfect 100 rating.

"Whenever I get a chance to be on TV showing my face rather than just being in uniform, it's great," Hester said.

Pretty soon, he will be challenging teammate Brian Urlacher for MFT―Most Face Time.

"A lot of advertising deals have been thrown my way, but I've had to turn them down," said Hester, whose marketability skyrocketed after two touchdown returns in last season's Monday night game at St. Louis. "Whenever you're a hot commodity, it comes regardless if you have marketing or not."

But it certainly helps to have good marketing help.

Behind the scenes
Brian Lammi, president of Lammi Sports Management, was set to wine and dine Hester upon their initial meeting this summer.

"I mean steak dinner, courtside seats or whatever," Lammi said. "But Devin and I actually bonded over pancakes at Denny's, and he wanted to meet there. That just kind of tells me what kind of humble, down-to-earth guy he is."

Eugene Parker, Hester's contract agent, hooked Hester up with Lammi's Milwaukee-based agency this summer because of its reputation and Midwest presence. Lammi currently works with Packers receiver Donald Driver and has done a lot with quarterback Brad Johnson in the past.

Keeping up with the high demand for Hester might qualify as one of Lammi's most challenging endeavors.

"We've probably turned down at least 25 deals in the last four or five months," Lammi said. "Not all of those are national endorsements. We're also talking about making appearances and things of that nature.
Devin Hester
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Devin Hester
Hester at the 2007 Pro Bowl
Chicago Bears ― No. 23
Wide receiver / Return specialist
Date of Birth: November 4, 1982 (1982-11-04) (age 25)
Place of Birth: Riviera Beach, Florida
Height: 5 ft 11 in (1.8 m) Weight: 186 lb (84 kg)
National Football League Debut
2006 for the Chicago Bears
Career Highlights and Awards
Pro Bowl selection (2006)
NFC Player of the Month (12/06)
Brian Piccolo Award (2006)
AP All-Pro Team (2006)
ESPY Breakthrough Player of the Year (2007)
List of NFL records

Career History
College: Miami (Fla.)
NFL Draft: 2006 / Round: 2 / Pick: 57

Chicago Bears (2006-present)

Stats at
Devin Hester (born November 4, 1982) is an American football player who plays wide receiver and return specialist for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. He is an alumnus of the University of Miami, where he became the first person in the university's history to play on all three teams (offense, defense, special teams). [1] Hester began his professional career with the Bears in 2006, and quickly made an impact as a kick returner. Dubbed the "Windy City Flyer" and "Anytime", Hester holds the league's all-time record for most touchdown returns in a season.[2]

1 Early years
2 Collegiate career
3 Professional career
3.1 2006
3.2 2007
4 NFL records
5 Personal life
6 References
7 External links

Early years
Devin Hester was born to Juanita Brown and Lenorris Hester Sr. in Riviera Beach, Florida. His parents separated while he was a toddler. Before he became a teenager, his mother was severely injured in car accident, while his father died of cancer two years later.[3] His step-father, Derrick Brown, and brother, Lenorris Jr., helped Hester escape his depression, and rebuild his life by introducing him to football. He soon returned to his normal life, and began to excel in sports and academics.[4]

Hester attended Suncoast High School, where he played football as a cornerback, wide receiver, return specialist, and running back. He earned recognition from as the sixth best high school prospect in Florida, and Parade, who named Hester onto their All-American team. Hester also participated in the 2002 CaliFlorida Bowl, where he returned a kick for an 80-yard touchdown.[5][6]

During his youth, Hester enjoyed following the Dallas Cowboys. He especially idolized Deion Sanders, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. He was also a fan of the Chicago Bulls during the Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson era.[7] Fred Taylor of the University of Florida was Hester's favorite athlete. In addition to football, he also enjoyed playing soccer and following baseball.[7]

Collegiate career
After completing high school, Hester enrolled into the University of Miami. As a sophomore, he earned national recognition after being named onto the "Walter Camp All-America Team" and "The Sporting News' All-America team". Hester's recognition was influenced by his prodigious success as a kick returner. His ability to thrust laterally and breakaway from pursuers made him one of the nation's most dangerous return specialists.[5] During his freshman year, Hester returned an opening kick for a 97-yard touchdown against the University of Florida. In a game against Duke University in 2005, Hester broke six tackles while returning an 81-yard punt.[8] Ultimately, Hester completed his college career with a total of six touchdowns from kick returns, including one blocked field goal return. He also scored one rushing and receiving touchdown, and recorded five interceptions as a defensive back.

Hester became the first football player in Miami Hurricanes' history to play as member of the special, offensive, and defensive teams.[5][1] During his productive tenure at the University of Miami, Hester befriended Deion Sanders through Ed Reed, one of Sanders' teammates who was an alumnus of the University of Miami. Sanders counseled, advised, and encouraged Hester. Hester was also known as "Anytime" in college, which is a tribute to Sanders' nickname, "Prime Time". He also adopted Sanders' signature touchdown dance, and showboating maneuvers, which he carried to his future NFL career.[4]

Professional career

Pre-draft measureables
Weight 40 yd 20 ss 3-cone Vert BP Wonderlic
190 lb (86 kg) 4.35s 4.20s 6.78s 38 in (96.5 cm)* 16*[9] X
* represents NFL Combine
The Chicago Bears drafted Hester in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft as the fifty-seventh overall selection.[9] Although Hester was drafted as a cornerback, Coach Lovie Smith intended to use him as a return specialist. His rookie season was eventful and record-breaking. In only thirteen weeks as a professional football player, Hester scored six return touchdowns, including a then-record tying 108-yard touchdown from a missed field goal against the New York Giants.[10] He also returned a punt for a clutch 83-yard game-winning touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals, and two kickoff returns in one game against the St. Louis Rams.[11][12] Following his record-breaking game during week fourteen, opposing teams exercised additional caution when allowing Hester to return kicks.[13][2] During the postseason Hester nearly ran back a punt at a critical moment against the Seattle Seahawks, but it was called back on a blocking penalty. Regardless, the Bears won both NFC playoffs rounds, and advanced to Super Bowl XLI to play the Indianapolis Colts. He started the game on a high note for the Bears by returning the game's opening kick for a touchdown.[14] The feat was the first touchdown return in an opening kickoff in Super Bowl history.[14] It also marked the quickest lead ever taken by any team.[14] Following the kick, the Colts did not kick the ball directly to Hester, significantly limiting the Bears' return efforts.[15]

Hester's feats in 2006 earned him three NFC Special Teams Player of the week Awards,[16] and a trip to the 2007 Pro Bowl.[17] After the 2006 season ended, he was named as the "NFC's Player of the Month" for December, and was a finalist in the 2006 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year voting.[18] He was also voted onto the Associated Press's 2006 All-Pro team with 48 and a half votes, finishing fourth behind LaDainian Tomlinson, Champ Bailey, and Jason Taylor who all received 50 votes.[19] He finished the 2006 season by accumulating three touchdowns for 600 yards on 47 punt returns, and two touchdowns for 528 yards on 20 kick returns, thus making him one of the league's most productive kick and punt returners.[20][16] Even without taking an offensive snap prior to week fourteen, Hester was the Bears' second leading scorer, behind kicker Robbie Gould.[21] On a negative note, Hester struggled to control the football at times, having games with multiple fumbles on at least two separate occasions.[22][23][2]

Many fans speculated that Hester's speed and prior experience as a wide receiver would earn him a spot on the Bears' offense, similar to teammate Rashied Davis. While Lovie Smith dismissed the speculation, he played Hester as a wide receiver for one play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 17, 2006.[24][25] Hester attributes his talent to his mentor, Deion Sanders, whom Hester claims helped him perfect his return game.[16][7] Sanders, a former cornerback and kick returner, compliments Hester after every productive performance. However, Sanders also berated Hester for taunting another player en route to his second touchdown return against the St. Louis Rams.[26][27] His teammates and coaches have also praised Hester. After the 2006 season, he was voted to receive the team's Brian Piccolo Award, which is given to a player who possesses a good character and work ethic.[28]

Shortly after losing Super Bowl XLI, Hester and David Toub, the Bears' special teams coach, spent a significant amount of time working on new return strategies for Hester.[29] Despite Lovie Smith's interest in keeping Hester a kick returner and reserve defensive back, the Bears officially converted him to a wide receiver and possibly a running back on May 14.[30] Hester, who had originally played as a receiver and running back at Miami, wished to play as a cornerback like his idol, Deion Sanders, but was persuaded by the coaching staff to make the switch to offense.[31] In July, he won the Best Breakthrough Athlete ESPY Award.[32]

Hester returned his first touchdown in 2007, a 73 yard punt return, during the Bears' home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.[33] He had a kick return touchdown called back for a holding penalty in the same game.[33] Hester returned his second kick for a touchdown in week four, a 97 yard kick return against the Detroit Lions.[34] On October 14, against the Minnesota Vikings, Hester returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown, and later caught an 81 yard touchdown from Brian Griese late in the 4th quarter.[35] On November 25, Hester returned a Todd Sauerbrun punt 75 yards and a kickoff 88 yards for touchdowns against the Denver Broncos, passing Gale Sayers for the most career return touchdowns in Bears history.[36][37]

NFL records

Hester roaming around Lambeau Field before a gameLeague

Most touchdowns returns in a season (six) - 2006 season
Most touchdowns kick and punt returns in a season (five) - 2006 season
Most touchdown returns as a rookie (six) - 2006 season
Most touchdown returns in one game (two)** - Against St. Louis on December 11, 2006

Most regular season kick and punt returns (10)
Most kickoff return yards in a game (225 yards) - Against St. Louis on December 11, 2006
Most punt return yards in a game (152 yards) - Against Arizona on October 16, 2006
Most punt return yards in a season (518 yards) - 2006 season
Longest play (108 yards)* - Against New York Giants on November 12, 2006
*Shared with Nathan Vasher
**Shared with five others

Personal life
Hester is in a relationship with Tamara James, a women's basketball player he met at the University of Miami. James currently plays professionally for the Washington Mystics. In an interview with the Black Sports Network in 2005, Hester revealed that he was engaged to James, but the couple had not yet set a date for their marriage ceremony.[38] A later article by the Chicago Tribune confirmed that he had proposed to James on June 6, 2005 at a Miami Heat basketball game.[4] Hester's family resides in Florida and was struck by Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Hester has assisted his family financially in helping them rebuild their home.[39] His brother Lenorris Jr., resides with Hester during the regular season in their Chicago area home. Hester was raised as a Christian. He brings a Bible to every game he plays.[40]

Hester's successful rookie year drew him much publicity and popularity. Ever since his record-breaking performance against the Rams, Hester has been offered marketing opportunities from Nike, soft drink businessmen, and cell phone companies.[41] There has also been a surge in the demand for Hester's jerseys within the Chicagoland sporting stores.[42] Also, Hester was invited to throw the ceremonial opening pitch and sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game at the Chicago Cubs' 2007 home opener.[43] Along with teammates Rex Grossman and Tommie Harris, Hester appeared on the February 2007 issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids. His reputation has also been bolstered by EA Sports' Madden NFL 08, where Hester's perfect 100 speed rating made him the fastest player in the game's history.[44] Hester also appeared in a promotional video for the game.[45]



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