Devin Hester mulls retirement in wake of Lovie firing
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org
As he packed up his things from the locker room, Devin Hester reacts to the news that coach Lovie Smith was fired as head coach of the Chicago Bears at Halas Hall in Lake Forest on Monday, December 31, 2012. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Devin Hester was distressed about the firing of coach Lovie Smith, and it showed. His emotions came out when he met with the media while cleaning out his locker Monday at Halas Hall.
Hester talked about retirement, which is something he apparently has been thinking about for some time.
‘‘I’m going to go home and get away from football right now,’’ Hester said. ‘‘I don’t even know if I want to play again, man. It’s [been] on my mind now for two years now.’’
Hester, 30, said he planned to discuss his future with his family and didn’t plan on paying much attention to general manager Phil Emery’s search for Smith’s replacement.
Asked if football was still fun for him, Hester said: ‘‘It’s not. . . . A lot of stress has been on my mind lately.’’
Hester said the most frustrating thing has been ‘‘not being able to showcase my talents the way I wanted [them] to be showcased’’ this season.
Hester, who has 19 career return touchdowns, struggled with his kickoff and punt returns this season, putting pressure on himself, making mistakes and hurting the Bears’ field position. Still, teams often kicked away from him.
Hester had 23 catches for 242 yards and a touchdown this season, but he never became the receiver Smith and the Bears hoped. He played only four offensive snaps in the last two games.
‘‘[Smith] was the coach who took a chance on me,’’ Hester said. ‘‘I’m hoping I did him right. . . . We had some great moments.’’
Hester, who is signed through 2013, didn’t rule out playing elsewhere but did refer to himself as ‘‘a Bear for life.’’ He said he would play for special-teams coordinator Dave Toub again.
Hester said he wasn’t hurt physically ‘‘but mentally.’’
‘‘I mean, the media, the false fans, you all got what you all wanted,’’ Hester said. ‘‘The majority of you all wanted [Smith] out. As players, we wanted him in. I guess the fans — the false fans — outruled us.’’
Linebacker Brian Urlacher didn’t meet with the media at Halas Hall, but he said on WMVP-AM (1000) that he thinks he still can contribute when healthy. Urlacher missed the last four games with a hamstring injury after having knee surgery in the preseason.
‘‘It was one of my most frustrating seasons,’’ said Urlacher, who will be a free agent. ‘‘I didn’t get healthy until training camp. I aggravated [the knee] in training camp. But once I got into playing shape and I was healthy, I think I played decent. Some games I could have played better, but until the hamstring I was getting better.’’
Quarterback Jay Cutler said he doesn’t plan to be part of the hiring process for Smith’s replacement.
‘‘I don’t think they’re going to ask me,’’ he said. ‘‘[I have a] lot of confidence in Phil and everyone else involved. They’re going to do the right thing and hire the right people.’’
In the fold
The Bears signed six players — guard Derek Dennis, cornerback Isaiah Frey, tight end Gabe Miller, receiver Dale Moss, guard Chris Riley and defensive end Aston Whiteside — to reserve/future contracts.