You could say there are 12 reasons Devin Hester should be in the Hall of Fame. Today he extended his own NFL record by running back a punt to give him a dozen return TDs for his career. It would surprise no one if he didn't make it a baker's dozen by Christmas.
But one statistic usually isn't enough to qualify someone for the Hall. Yet, there are other more important reasons that Hester should get a bust in Canton.
There are members of the Hall of Fame that have less impressive statistical resumes to Hester. For instance, Joe Namath has a career passer rating of 65.5. As much as it moves the argument into less concrete territory, there is something to be said for the anecdotal case.
Teams can't punt to Hester. If he doesn't score, he's at least going to set up the Bears in phenomenal field position. That kind of intimidation can't be overemphasized. Teams rearrange their entire special teams game plan around him.
That's the kind of anecdote you reserve for guys like Marshall Faulk and Barry Sanders. He completely changes the complexion of how teams approach the Bears.
Special teams is—and likely always will be—the third wheel of football teams. Offense is fun to watch and has the name-brand players. Defense is your backstop that you enjoy watching but always want on the sidelines. Yet, special teams is that annoying squad that comes out right before commercials.
The NFL would do the game a lot of favors by recognizing its importance with an induction like Hester's. Even setting the touchdowns aside, a difference in starting field position of only five or eight yards can mean the difference of being able to kick a field goal or just getting within reach of a touchdown.
Hester is more or less like a running back who's always good for an extra-long run to start a drive.
There are no return men in the Hall of Fame. Yet Leroy Kelly (who?) was inducted in the Hall in 1994 with 7,274 career rushing yards. Hester will likely break this just in return yards.
We like to induct the flashy guys—quarterbacks, running backs and receivers—while forgetting about the guys who set them up for the flash in the first place.
Hester has 17 career return touchdowns. No active player is even close. If we were talking about a running back with 200 career touchdowns, there wouldn't be a debate about whether he should go to the Hall of Fame.
This is how much Hester is dominating the category. He is the best return man in the history of the game, and his career is far from over.
Why shouldn't he be remembered for it?