- Kevin Seifert, NFL Nation
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In this week's ESPN.com Hot Read, Greg Garber set out to find out what makes the Chicago Bears' Devin Hester better than anyone else who has ever returned kicks in NFL history. Garber sought out a number of authoritative figures on the topic, including longtime returner Eric Metcalf, who played for seven teams from 1989-2002. Here is an excerpt of that portion of the story:
"That's the thing people don't understand," Metcalf said. "It's not clear-cut when you're on the field, in the middle of it. It's a feel thing. You get a second to peek when the ball is in the air. You see where everyone is and after you catch it, you can kind of [extrapolate] where everyone is going to be. If you misjudge it they can get a big shot on you, which you're really trying to avoid. Have you ever seen Devin Hester get blown up?"
Metcalf said there were times when he would try to appear as though he were running faster than he was by pumping his arms and taking smaller steps.
"And then, when they think they've got you," Metcalf said, "you turn on your afterburners. You stop and cut under them. I see Hester doing that all the time. He's running, puts on the brakes, just breaks it back. He has the ability to slow down enough to make the cut, and then pick it back up. It's actually his deceleration that is so amazing."
In the video below, Sports Science compares Hester's speed to that of an actual bear, who was not injured during its time on set. And if it suits your fancy, you can follow this link to a free ESPN Arcade game called "Return Man 2."