By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) Minutes after a meeting in which Bears players were formally told head coach Lovie Smith had been fired, Devin Hester stood with his back to media and hood over his head while he cleaned out his locker and contemplated retirement.
“I’m going to go home and get away from football right now,” he said. “I don’t even know if I want to play again.”
Maybe Hester was overreacting in the heat of the moment, but the writing is on the wall: his days as a Chicago Bear are over.
“I got my worker’s comp papers in my pocket, see how I feel, go home and talk to my wife and my family,” Hester said.
The emotional wide receiver and kick returner directed his anger over Smith’s firing in many directions, including the fans.
“To the media and the fans, you all got what you all wanted,” he said. “You know, majority of y’all wanted him out. Players wanted him in. I guess the fans out-ruled us.
“I thought he was a great coach. One of the best coaches I’ve ever been around.”
Hester said he won’t even pay attention to the Bears’ coaching search, another indication that the receiver, who is entering the final year of his contract, is out the door.
He didn’t completely rule out the possibility of playing somewhere else, but when asked about it, he once again mentioned retirement.
“Who knows? If it’s the right place. If not, I feel like I’ve done enough in the league to where I established myself as being one of the elite players to ever play the game,” Hester said. “God blessed me with seven years. The average years of NFL players are about three.”
Hester also expressed appreciation for special teams coach Dave Toub. He expressed frustration about “not being able to showcase what I wanted to be showcased” and said he reached some of his goals, but still has some goals he didn’t achieve.
Hester currently owns the NFL’s all-time record for career kick return touchdowns (17) and career punt return touchdowns (12), but he is one return touchdown shy of tying Deion Sanders’ record for most career return touchdowns.
Who knows if Hester’s tune will change, but Monday at Halas Hall, he talked in the past tense and sounded like a player who has given up on the Bears and possibly even football.
Meanwhile, it’s likely the Bears have given up on him too.
For more Bears coverage throughout the season, follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamHogeCBS.