NFL: Devin Hester and the Most Exciting Special Teams Players in League History

Jeff KneisSenior Analyst IIIOctober 2, 2011

NFL: Devin Hester and the Most Exciting Special Teams Players in League History

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    After seeing Devin Hester break the individual NFL record for the most punt return touchdowns with his 11th TD, it is a good time to look back at some of the other great special teams players.

    Players like Deion Sanders, Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, Josh Cribbs, Brian Mitchell, Mel Gray and Gale Sayers dominated on special teams many years before Hester.

    Special teams returns are among the most exciting plays to watch and can change the momentum in the game in a second.

    Who joins Devin Hester as the most exciting special teams players?

5. Josh Cribbs

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    Joshua Cribbs is downright explosive with the ball in his hands. Not only was he named the Browns MVP in 2009, he was also honored with the NFL Alumni Special Teams Player of the Year in '09.

    Cribbs has 10 TD returns in his career and was named to the Pro Bowl twice. The Browns count on Cribbs to make big plays every week.

4. Brian Mitchell

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    Brian Mitchell is one of the best returners in NFL History. He holds the NFL records for career kickoff return yards and career punt return yards. Mitchell had 13 return touchdowns in his career.

    Mitchell is second on the all-purpose yards NFL list behind only Jerry Rice. He is honored on the Redskins ring of fame and was named NFL Alumni Kick Returner of the Year in 1995.

    Check out these amazing returns by the all-time great.

3. Billy White Shoes Johnson

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    Billy "White Shoes" Johnson is probably best known as one of the first players to celebrate after scoring a touchdown, but he was also a great returner.

    Billy Johnson was selected as the punt returner on the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. He had eight return TDs in his long career.

    Watch these two amazing returns for 1977.

2. Deion Sanders

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    Deion is one of the most exciting, big play players in NFL History. He found ways to score touchdowns, despite primarily being a CB. He is the only player to score six different ways (interception return, punt return, kickoff return, receiving, rushing and a fumble recovery). 

    Sanders was named Co-NFL Alumni Special Teams Player of the Year in 1988.  Sanders' 19 defensive and return touchdowns are an NFL record. 

    Check out these highlights of Deion's returns.

1. Devin Hester

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    Hester is hands down the most explosive special teams player in NFL history. Teams are forced to punt out of bounds to avoid Hester touching the ball.  With the new kickoff rules, it is a shame there will be less opportunities for Devin to return the ball.

    Devin Hester was named NFL Alumni Special Teams Player of the Year three times. He is the NFL's combined kickoff/punt return touchdown leader with 15. He also holds the record for the most punt return TDs in a career. All these records and he is only 28 years old.

    Check out his record-breaking punt return against the Panthers.

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