Former Bears return star Devin Hester moved one step closer to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday when he was named one of 26 semifinalists for induction.
Fifteen finalists will be chosen in January. Three people picked by previous committees — Dick Vermeil, Art McNally and Cliff Branch — will form an 18-person pool. The class of between four and eight will be chosen before the Super Bowl and honored in August 2022.
Hester, who was with the Bears from 2006 to 2013, holds the NFL record with 20 returns for touchdowns. He returned 14 punts, five kickoffs and one field goal for touchdowns.
He was the first player to return the opening kickoff of a Super Bowl for a touchdown, running 92 yards for a score against the Colts.
He is one of seven first-time semifinalists.
Edge rusher Jared Allen, a member of the Bears from 2014 to 2015, was named a semifinalist for a second straight year.