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#pounditSaturday, September 24, 2022

Devin Hester on Pro Bowl eliminating kickoffs: ‘That will suck for me’

devin-hesterChicago Beard wide receiver Devin Hester has never been much of a pass catcher. He hauled in only 49 passes over the past two seasons, but his value to the Bears extends beyond the passing game. Above all else, Hester is a special teamer and a kick return specialist.

On Wednesday, the NFL decided that people like Hester aren’t all that important to the Pro Bowl. In the interest of player safety, kickoffs have been removed from the annual event. Each Pro Bowl team will now have an extra defensive back in place of a kick return specialist, and Hester is not happy about it.

“That was one of my goals for this season,” Hester told the Chicago Tribune. “I won’t make the Pro Bowl. They can’t do that. If you are taking the returner out of the Pro Bowl, you’re taking two positions out. That will suck for me. They are trying to change up the whole game of football and they’re messing with people’s jobs and lives.”

The game will still feature punts, but there will not be a player on each team specifically to field them. As Oakland Raiders punter Chris Kluwe pointed out, the rule change could even take money out of some players’ pockets.

That is an interesting question. I’m sure it’s not technically illegal, because I doubt the contracts offer incentives for making the Pro Bowl at a specific position. Teams have no control over the rule change, but you can see why a kick returner would be angry if language in their contract allowed them to earn a bonus for making the Pro Bowl.

Of course, we do see a lot of injuries on kickoffs every year. No one wants to see a significant injury in the Pro Bowl, so you can understand why the NFL made the change. As for why they changed the format for selecting teams into a fantasy draft — well, I guess we’ll see how that turns out.

H/T Deadspin


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