Gale Sayers and Devin Hester have two things in common. They both play(ed) football for the Chicago Bears and are both considered in the conversation for the greatest kick/punt returners in the history of football.
Hester is having quite the disappointing season this year when it comes to the return game, to the point that the Bears are considering other options, and Sayers has a few theories as to the return game's futility thus far.
"It looks like he's afraid to run back kickoffs," Sayers said.
Wow, tell us how you really feel, Gale. Mr. Sayers was emphatic in his opinions on why Hester is struggling this season.
"He's running straight up the field and everybody is tackling him. He looks like he's afraid to go out on his own.
"A couple of times the other team would kick to the right and [Hester] would run to the right and run out of bounds. It's like he doesn't want to run the kickoffs back. Run to the left ... you have the whole field!"
I have to say, being a huge fan of Hester's and watching every return this season, I tend to agree.
Here's the thing, though, Hester probably is being more protective of himself due to monetary concerns than fear. He played without fear the last two years while he was establishing himself as a star football player. This past offseason, he got paid. His contract would get bigger if certain benchmarks are achieved as a wide receiver.
"I hope he doesn't think that way," Sayers said.
That sounds like a fan's perspective. It's hard to blame Hester the man for wanting to make as much money as he can. We all want that, regardless of professsion. It's easy to complain about the amount of money, but that just reeks of jealousy. Simply put, Hester's a man who wants what everyone wants, and keeping himself healthy will help to achieve that goal. The shelf life of stud return guys is much shorter than that of a star receiver. He's just trying to keep himself around as long as possible.
At the same time, he's a competitor. I have a feeling we'll see the old Hester break a return or two before the end of the season.