"I like to say I know Joe Montana is the best quarterback ever, but I'd like to put him back and let him return a kick. You think he can do what we did? Look at Ray Guy, the best punter ever, why isn't he in the Hall of Fame? If it's the Pro Football Hall of Fame you go to the different positions and put the best people in those positions. Devin has shown how great he is in a short period of time."
Hester passed Mitchell when he returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 20. Mitchell, who played from 1990 to 2003 with the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, needed 223 games to set the record. Hester eclipsed the mark in 73 games.
Hester averaged 17.1 yards on punt returns this season, the highest in league history among players with at least 30 returns. He had gone two seasons without returning a punt or kickoff for a touchdown after running back 11 to the end zone in his first two seasons. That drought ended when he took a punt 62 yards against Green Bay on Sept. 27.
Mitchell said the Green Bay Packers, who play the Bears on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, should steer clear of Hester.
"If they kick it to him they are stupid," Mitchell said. "If you are going to kick the ball to Devin, I think what you have to do to any return guy, just like when I was playing, you don't kick it down the middle of the field. Kick it more to the sideline, move him right and left. If you move him right and left then you have a chance.
"As I watched him over his career, the only thing I see that has been a problem with him is when he has to move he doesn't focus on the ball as much. You kick it down the middle, he's focused, and he's going to hurt you."