Devin Hester Would Embrace Lovie ReunionMarch 6th, 2014
It seems famed kick return specialist Devin Hester and Florida native Devin Hester would welcome a reunion with his former Bears coach, current Bucs head coach Lovie Smith. But do the Bucs want to revisit the relationship?
Yesterday, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport crushed and quashed the dreams of many Bucs fans hoping free agent return wizard Hester would want to come to Tampa Bay. Rapoport hinted there isn’t much interest from the Bucs.
Thus far, a potential reunion is a one-way street, with Hester making no bones about wanting to come back to his home state and play for Lovie. Speaking as part of an in-studio panel on NFL Network’s “Total Access,” Hester stated his days with the Bears are over and if Lovie calls, he would love nothing more than to move to Tampa Bay, documents Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sports.
But his former coach, Lovie Smith, has landed in Tampa Bay and could provide a landing spot. The Buccaneers were only so-so on returns last season with second-year receiver Eric Page primarily handling those duties. Hester averaged 27.6 yards per kickoff return and 14.2 yards per punt return last season, and his 81-yard punt return score against the Redskins tied Sanders’ all-time mark.
If he breaks Sanders’ mark, it will be with another team. Hester talked about a possible Lovie reunion in Tampa on the broadcast.
“I look at Lovie as my number one coach right now,” Hester said. “Because he’s the one that took a chance on me coming out of the draft. He has all of my respect so if he’s a guy who is going to shoot at me and want me to come play with him again, my arms are open.”
The trick to this issue is how much Team Glazer has to open its checkbook? Perhaps, per Rapoport, the reason the Bucs are less than lukewarm to Hester is his asking price? Sure, players always have favorite coaches or preferred teams, but at the end of the day, it is all about either Benjamins or winning, or both.
There are probably a bunch of teams that were either in the playoffs last year or on the cusp of the playoffs that could use Hester. And there are teams, the Raiders for example, that are so far under the cap they could offer Hester an extraordinary contract.
So while Hester says he wants to play again for Lovie, that’s a far cry from actually suiting up in those, um, er, unique new Bucs uniforms.