When Tony Dungy took the Indianapolis Colts to Super Bowl XLI against the Chicago Bears in 2007, his top priority was not to let return ace Devin Hester beat him. The simple solution: Don’t kick the ball to Hester.
Appearing on “The Dan Patrick Show” in 2015, Dungy told a hilarious story about the NFL’s greatest returner who retired on Tuesday.
Patrick asked Dungy to re-enact his pre-game talk from that day. The retired coach obliged.
The impassioned speech hit on all the sports cliches — honor, togetherness and fight. But Dungy also told his team that at some time during the game, they would encounter “a storm,” a rough period where they would have to stay together and get past it.
“We had decided all week that we were not going to kick the ball to Devin Hester. That night after the meeting, I thought that [not kicking to him] was playing scared. So, the next morning as we’re going to the game, I told the team I hope we lose the toss because if we do, we’re going to kick it right down the middle to Hester. We’re going to pound him. Then, they know we’ve taken their best threat. They’re going to be finished.”
Sure enough, the Colts put the opening kickoff in Hester’s hands.
“Thirteen seconds later he was in the end zone,” Dungy said. “Everybody is looking at me saying, ‘who’s that?’ I went back and said to them, ‘I told you we’d have a storm.”’
Of course, the Colts weathered the storm and went on to win 29-17.
Hester returned 13 punts and five kickoffs for touchdowns from 2006 to 2013 with the Bears, perhaps none as electrifying as the Super Bowl run-back. He finished his 11-year career with an NFL-record 20 TD returns.