Where were you on September 18, 2014? Hopefully you were glued to your couch, watching the Falcons demolish the Lovie Smith-led Buccaneers. Because on that night, Falcons alumnus Devin Hester did something no professional football player had ever done. In fact, he did something no professional football player is likely to do ever again, particularly with kick and punt return rules being subject to ongoing change based on legitimate concerns about player safety.
On that fateful September night, Hester returned a Michael Koenen punt 62 yards, scoring his 20th career return touchdown. That touchdown was special because it broke Deion “Prime Time” Sanders’ record.
Hester wept on the sideline after this touchdown and Prime Time himself was on hand to comment on the historical night. He also had the opportunity to personally congratulate Hester, which must’ve been a pretty special experience for both of them.
No active player is close to breaking Hester’s record at this point. There’s a smattering of older players that have about a third of the return touchdowns as Hester; Cordarelle Patterson, who has returned 7 kicks for touchdowns (no punts), comes to mind. But as we discussed above, rule changes have pretty much made quick accumulation of return touchdowns a thing of the past.
Where were you when Hester broke the NFL return record?