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Riviera Beach native, NFL Hall of Famer Devin Hester and his 'ridiculous' Super Bowl touchdown

A football player runs with the ball while being chased by another one.
Alex Brandon
FILE - In this Feb. 4, 2007, file photo, Chicago Bears' Devin Hester (23) runs back the opening kickoff 92-yards for a touchdown in the Super Bowl XLI football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Dolphin Stadium in Miami.

The Miami Dolphins may have ended up a long way from making the weekend's Super Bowl, but as the Kansas City Chiefs enjoy their win one South Florida superstar is celebrating making the Hall of Fame.

Riviera Beach native Devin Hester, who played for the Chicago Bears, had vision that was "unmatched, unrivaled, " said Jeff Joniak, the play-by-play radio announcer for the Bears.

It was in 2007 during Super Bowl 41 — in Miami's own Dolphin Stadium, now Hard Rock Stadium — when Hester took the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Bears lost that game 29–17, but no player had ever done that — and no one has done it since. When he was unveiled as part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2024 last week, he became the first return specialist ever chosen for the honor.

"You look at Super Bowl 58. Every kick was a touchback. The play is eliminated from the NFL. And I know [officials] want to take another look at it this year, but nobody has been in the Hall of Fame for this [role]," Joniak said, explaining that it was "the volume of returns and the ease at which he did it" that took Hester over the top.

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"I called 19 of his 20 regular season touchdowns, plus that Super Bowl one," Joniak, who still broadcasts for the team, told WLRN.

And he recalled the memorable off-the-cuff comment that encapsulated the four-time Pro Bowler's historical season and career. "I remember vividly [saying], 'From Riviera Beach, Florida, to the biggest stage in sports: Devin Hester, you are ridiculous!'"

Hester, 41, was always a football star, from Suncoast High School in Riviera Beach, to the University of Miami and the Chicago Bears. He holds the NFL record for the most return touchdowns with 20.

Jeff Joniak - Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears
Jeff Joniak - Chicago Bears

Joniak, who is close with Hester, said he revolutionized how teams built their rosters for special teams. He also recalled how Hester played with some flair, appealing yo the hip hop music and dance communities with his pre-game preparations.

"When he was miked up, you could hear him. Soulja Boy, he loved that [artist]," said Joniak, who said it was a cultural touchtone for the times then. "And that got the whole stadium cranked up. It was a show – very much a part of NFL lore. It’ll be missed because I don't know that we’ll have anything like it ever again." 

Devin Hester is one of seven players in this year’s NFL Hall of Fame Class — Julius Peppers, Dwight Freeney, Steve McMichael, Randy Gradishar, and Patrick Willis — to be inducted in August.

Wilkine Brutus is the Palm Beach County Reporter for WLRN. The award-winning journalist produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs. Contact Wilkine at wbrutus@wlrnnews.org
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