Forget Tom Brady and Michael Vick: How About Devin Hester For NFL MVP?

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IIDecember 27, 2010

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears celebrates a touchdown catch against the New York Jets at Soldier Field on December 26, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Jets 38-34. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Chicago Tribune writer Dan Pompei started his summary of the Bears game against the New York Jets Sunday, naming Jay Cutler, Johnny Knox, Chris Harris and Matt Forte as his Bears "stars of the game."

He then wrote, "but none of the stars of the game impacted the Bears 38-34 victory over the Jets more than Devin Hester."'

That's because even when Hester doesn't run a punt or kickoff back for a touchdown, he's still one of the most valuable players on the field.

Hester returned just one punt for 38 yards and one kickoff for 40. The punt put the Bears on the Jets 32, while the kickoff had them at midfield. They scored touchdowns on both possessions.

Those two plays put his averages at 17.1 on punt returns, and 35.6 on kickoffs for the year.

And those plays were mistakes.

Jets coach Rex Ryan said before the game he didn't plan on kicking to Hester, and he was good to his word until the second half of the game, which had the Jets leading by a touchdown at the half.

The Bears average starting point for the game was their own 36-yard-line because the Jets tried pooch kicks, angle punts away or out of bounds and anything else to keep the ball from landing in Hester's hands.

The strategy worked for awhile, but still had the Bears with great field position and 17 points in the first half despite Hester being avoided.

You really can't win with Hester. You kick it to him and your team might end up on the wrong end of SportsCenter highlights or you avoid him at all costs and still end up on the short end of the scoring column.

You can pick your poison, but Devin Hester is lethal and I hope once and for all, people will believe me when I say that Hester is the reason the Chicago Bears are in the playoffs.

I know Rex Ryan believes that.

Here's what he had to say about Hester: "We were going in there trying to kick the ball away from that guy. He got his hands on it, and that's when you see how important it is to kick away from that kid."

So why isn't Hester being talked about as the NFL's Most Valuable Player?

You hear the names—Tom Brady of the Patriots and Michael Vick of the Eagles—and they're both great candidates. But so is Devin Hester.

Most Valuable Player doesn't really mean best player, even though that is often how voters cast their ballots. It's supposed to be a player that means the most to his team and who means more to the Bears than Hester?

Doesn't Hester's presence on the field help the Bears win as many games as Brady and Vick do for their teams? In fact, you could argue he's more valuable than them, because he touches the ball far fewer times than they do.

Could they do with just a couple of touches a game what Hester does?

Would they put fear into the opposition, even if the ball wasn't in their hands like Hester does?

He changes the whole game around; teams gameplan for him. They do for Brady and Vick too, but he's mainly just a return man.

Just for the hell of it, he did haul in a 25-yarder for a touchdown, but his real value to the Bears is returning kicks.

Rex Ryan spewed out one more superlative about Hester: "He's the best returner in the game."

Is he also maybe the Most Valuable Player in the league?