Legendary Bears return man Devin Hester is up for Hall of Fame induction again after being left out his first year on the ballot. Seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs, however, didn’t make the cut.
Hester was one of 28 players to make the list of semifinalists for the upcoming class. Voters will cut the list to 15 finalists in January and elect the class for induction leading up to the Super Bowl.
Hester was an All-Pro for the Bears in 2006, ’07 and ’10 and is by far the NFL’s all-time leader with 20 total special teams touchdowns. He also added 3,427 yards and 17 touchdowns as a receiver and rusher.
His most memorable play was returning the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI against the Colts.
Hester, now 40, is seeking to be the first player to make the Hall of Fame primarily as a return specialist. He is eligible to remain on the ballot for a total of 20 years.
Briggs starred on some of the Bears’ best recent teams and played his entire 12-year career for them.
He made the Pro Bowl every year from 2005 through ’11 and totaled 1,181 tackles (second in franchise history only to teammate Brian Urlacher), 16 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles and 15 sacks. Pro Football Reference’s approximate value formula rates him the fifth-most valuable player the Bears have ever had.
Five players made the semifinalist list this year in their first year of eligibility: cornerback Darrelle Revis, offensive tackle Joe Thomas, defensive end Dwight Freeney, linebacker James Harrison and guard Jahri Evans.
Defensive end Jared Allen, who spent most of his career with the Chiefs and Vikings but played 18 games for the Bears over 2014 and ’15, also is among the semifinalists. He was a finalist each of the last two years.