Four downs with Mike Ditka: On Devin Hester and extra points

Written By BY MIKE DITKA Posted: 03/09/2014, 03:46am
Array Gale Sayers, a former player for the Chicago Bears and currently the president of Sayers Group LLC, runs the football in this undated handout photo. Sayers, the youngest player to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was beaming on the morning of Jan. 22, 2007, the day after the Chicago Bears' Lovie Smith and the Indianapolis Colts' Tony Dungy became the first black head coaches to reach the Super Bowl. Source: Sayers Group LLC via Bloomberg News.

1. Do you agree with the Bears’ decision to cut Devin Hester loose?

Hester has been a great Bear. He has played great for them. But he’s a limited role player. You know that, I know that and everybody else knows it. He has been one of the outstanding kick and punt returners that has ever played in the National Football League. But that’s what he is — a punt and kick returner. So when you start looking at it from a cap angle or value to the team, you might have another guy who can return punts and kicks and play defensive back or receiver. That’s probably the way they’re looking at it. He has nothing to apologize for. He has been one of the best that has ever played the game.

2. Hester is a great open-field runner, but you played with a pretty good one, too. How does Hester stack up with Gale Sayers?

Nobody stacks up to Gale Sayers. Let’s stop right there. He was in a class by himself. If he had not gotten hurt, he would have set records that would still be standing. He was unbelievable. I’ve seen them all. Walter Payton is as good a football player as I’ve ever seen. But nobody, not even Jim Brown, ran with the football the way Gale Sayers did. He had that grace and that ability to change direction. Still, Hester would be in my top five all-time. Hester got results, and his results were touchdowns.

3. The NFL is toying with the idea of changing the extra point. Do you have any ideas about this?

I think it’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard, putting the extra point back 40 yards. It doesn’t make any sense. We all know the extra point is almost automatic. But the game of football was started a long time ago. The rules of football have progressed with the game. There’s no reason to change the scoring system or make a change that would affect the scoring system. The extra point is not automatic; it’s close to being automatic. If you miss one or have one blocked, it makes a difference in a game.

4. Who’s the one free agent who could make the biggest impact on the Bears’ defense?

Where they have to get help is in the secondary. I don’t know who that guy is, but they must get help there. Their front seven can hold up, but they need help at corner and safety. They have to have people who can cover multiple-receiver sets. That means they have to have more than one cover corner. That’s essential with the way formations are today.

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