After near-miss last year, former Bear Devin Hester begins Hall of Fame march anew

The former Bears return man was one of 129 Pro Football Hall of Fame nominees Tuesday.

SHARE After near-miss last year, former Bear Devin Hester begins Hall of Fame march anew
Former Bears returner Devin Hester scores a touchdown in 2010.

Former Bears returner Devin Hester scores a touchdown in 2010.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Less than a year after being a near-miss for enshrinement, former Bears return man Devin Hester began his second march toward the Pro Football Hall of Fame when he was named one of 129 nominees Tuesday.

Hester had an NFL-record 20 returns for touchdowns: 14 on punts, five on kickoffs and one on a field goal that fell short. All but one of his return touchdowns came with the Bears, for whom he played in 2006-13. He’s the only player to start a Super Bowl with a kickoff return for a touchdown.

Hester has the best chance to reach the Hall among former Bears. Linebacker Lance Briggs, cornerback Charles Tillman and center Olin Kreutz also were named to the initial candidate list. Briggs and Kreutz first were nominated in 2019 and Tillman, who popularized the ‘‘Peanut Punch,’’ in 2020. None has advanced to the second round of the selection process before.

The list will be whittled to 25 semifinalists in November and to 15 finalists in January. Hester, who was one of the last players passed over for induction as a first-time nominee in January, figures to last at least into the final round again.

The Hall, whose nomination process is open to all players who have been inactive for at least five years, will welcome between four and nine new members with an announcement on the eve of the Super Bowl. They will be enshrined in August 2023 in Canton, Ohio.

Edge rusher Jared Allen, receiver Muhsin Muhammad, guard Ruben Brown and quarterback Dave Krieg also were nominated. They played for the Bears but made their names elsewhere.

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