Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears hauls in a touchdown pass against Josh Bullocks #29 of the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Devin Hester is the GOAT Returner of the NFL, Not Cordarrelle Patterson

Popular football content creator Theo Ash went to Twitter(dot)com to do what he does best: rile up the internet.

And on August 14, 2022, that's exactly what Ash did.

Saying Cordarrelle Patterson is a better offensive weapon than Devin Hester is a lukewarm take, but that's not what Theo Ash said.

"Cordarrelle Patterson is better than Devin Hester all-time," he wrote on Twitter.

To say that's an abysmal take is just getting to the tip of the iceberg.

Devin Hester: King of the Return Men

Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears returns the kick against the Carolina Panthers

Photo by Rex Brown/Getty Images

Devin Hester was arguably a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And when he wasn't included in the 2022 Hall of Fame class, many were in disbelief, including Hester himself.

Hester, who earned the nickname "The Windy City Flyer," revolutionized the way kickers and punters are used in the NFL. When Devin Hester was on the field, it was a crime to let the ball find its way into his hands.

However, punters and kickers didn't follow that rule much. And Devin Hester took advantage of their mistakes on multiple occasions.

Records Held by Devin Hester

  • Most combined special teams return touchdowns (20)
  • Most punt return touchdowns (14)
  • Most punt return touchdowns in a season (4)
  • Fastest touchdown in Super Bowl history (14 seconds)

The two main points Ash tried to point to for his previously mentioned take were: 1.) Devin Hester was only a three-time first-team All-Pro returner with no role in the offense, whereas Cordarrelle Patterson is a four-time first-team All-Pro returner and actually a half decent weapon for a few years; and 2.) ""Patterson will almost certainly end his career with more all-purpose yards, TDs, and accolades than Hester had."

As of now, here's how the two stack up.

Devin Hester:

  • Accolades
    • 4x Pro Bowl, 3x All-Pro, HOF All-2000s Team, HOF All-2010s Team
  • Receiving/Rushing
    • 156 games, 255 receptions, 36 rushes, 3,427 total yards, 17 total TDs
  • Returning
    • 610 returns, 11,028 yards, 20 total TDs

Cordarrelle Patterson:

  • Accolades
    • 4x Pro Bowl, 4x All-Pro, 1x SB Champ, HOF All-2010s Team, 2021 PFWA MIP
  • Receiving/Rushing
    • 143 games, 268 receptions, 320 rushes, 4,270 total yards, 29 total TDs
  • Returning
    • 258 returns, 7,561 yards, 8 total TDs
 Cordarrelle Patterson #84 of the Atlanta Falcons scores a touchdown reception against Kendall Fuller #29 of the Washington Football Team

Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Off the rip, it's clear which makes a bigger impact in the return game, and which makes a bigger impact on offense. If Ash were to say that Patterson was a better offensive weapon than Hester, sure. That's fair, as Hester wasn't the same player on offense as he was on special teams. That said, Hester nearly doubles Patterson in every stat on special teams. Devin Hester was an absolute menace as a kick returner, and the memories he created for Chicago Bears fans will live forever.

Cordarrelle Patterson is an intriguing offensive weapon, but in his nine-year career, he's never eclipsed 250 rushing yards or 500 receiving yards — outside his 618 rushing yards and 548 receiving yards in the 2021 season with the Atlanta Falcons as a hybrid running back. Patterson's most recent season with Atlanta was impressive, however, it doesn't seem likely that it can be re-created, at least when you compare 2021 to the rest of his career. But, to stay true, let's take a look at Devin Hester as an offensive weapon, too.

In Hester's ten-year career, he eclipsed 500 yards receiving three times, and he never eclipsed 250 rushing yards. So, while he wasn't as consistent as Patterson on offense, he wasn't used nearly as much — especially as a rusher. At the end of the day, Devin Hester's resume is more appealing than Cordarrelle Patterson's. It's not even a knock at Patterson, but when someone is a finalist for the Hall of Fame on their first year of eligibility, it's not because they were liked by their fans: it's because they're one of the best at their position in NFL history.

And that, Devin Hester was.

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