When you think Superman of the NBA, you think Dwight Howard. But, when you think Superman of the NFL, you should think Devin Hester.
You may know this superhero as the Bears’ freakishly fast kick returner who set a record with six touchdowns on special teams in 2006. Last year, Chicago decided to make the fastest player in the NFL a wide receiver.
SIKIDS.com reporter William Klein caught up to Hester to talk about what it’s like being a wide receiver, the arrival of star quarterback Jay Cutler, and his new commercial with Under Armour...
SIKIDS.com: What was your initial reaction when you found out Jay Cutler would be your quarterback? How are you guys meshing so far?
Devin Hester: It was very exciting. Whenever you get a Pro Bowl-caliber player like Jay, who can contribute to the game in all kinds of ways, it’s a great asset to the team. At the same time, I tip my hat to Kyle [Orton], who was getting in his own rhythm this offseason and was going to come out next year and shock the world. But, unfortunately they did the trade and Kyle went to Denver and Jay came to Chicago. It is a win-win situation for us.
SIKIDS.com: Do you feel like the Bears offense will be better off with Cutler under center?
Hester: Not to knock on Kyle, but Jay is a Pro Bowl quarterback and that right there speaks for itself.
SIKIDS.com: What has been the best moment of your professional career?
Hester: Just getting drafted. With any player going from high school to college to the NFL combine, you always wonder if you are going to get drafted or not. But when you do, you can sit back and say that you made it.
SIKIDS.com: How did it feel to return the opening kickoff in the Super Bowl?
Hester: It felt pretty good, just going back and thinking about it. There aren’t many guys that get an opportunity to make it to the Super Bowl. You have guys who play in the league for 10 or 20 years and they never get a chance to play in that game. Just making it to the Super Bowl my rookie year was a great thing, and then returning the kick made it even better.
SIKIDS.com: What do you want to be remembered for when you retire?
Hester: I want to be remembered as one of the most electrifying players to ever play the game of football.
SIKIDS.com: If you had to give one piece of advice to all the young athletes out there, what would you tell them?
Hester: Set your mind to one goal that you really, really want to accomplish and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish it. Just strive and strive until you get there.
SIKIDS.com: When you played at Miami you were Number 4. What made you choose Number 23 when you came to the NFL?
Hester: I had Number 23 in high school, and that was the next number that was open and I wanted to bring it back to be my number.
SIKIDS.com: After setting the record for most touchdown returns in a season, what would you say your next goal is?
Hester: I would say my goal is to be a Pro Bowl wide receiver.
SIKIDS.com: Do you feel you can play at that level this year?
Hester: Definitely. If you go back and look at the film [from 2008], we had a lot of opportunities that were left on the field that could have added up to 13 or 14 touchdowns and 1,300 yards. With missed opportunities like that, you feel like you have the ability to come back next year and give it a shot.
SIKIDS.com: What was it like adjusting to the weather in Chicago when you moved from Florida?
Hester: It was pretty tough. Born and raised in Florida, it was hard coming to one of the coldest cities in the NFL. Then again, you really have no choice of where you go.
SIKIDS.com: Do you believe you are the fastest player in the game? If not, who is?
Hester: Honestly, I believe I am. I am the fastest player in the league.
SIKIDS.com: I know you have a new commercial for Under Armour for your new cleats that will be released soon. Can you tell me a bit about it?
Hester: Basically, it was a feature of my everyday life. From me just waking up in the morning, to me going out in the community spending time with the kids. Then it goes into a game situation and it actually has me in the game. It is just the everyday life of me.
SIKIDS.com: What was it like doing a whole commercial with a camera attached to your head?
Hester: It was a lot of hard work and dedication, and you see a lot of action in the commercial that you know is hard to do with a camera on your head. It is kind of painful but I just kind stuck through it. Just imagine dragging 15 pounds on your head. But it was a great outcome. I put a lot of hard work in it and I am hoping that a lot of fans get excited over it.
SIKIDS.com: The new Under Armour “Fierce” cleats are supposed to be the lightest ever. How can these help a player like you with such great speed?
Hester: In the category of speed, the guys want to wear the lightest cleats possible. You’re almost like a track player; you want to find the lightest track spikes to wear in a race, and now we are coming out with the lightest cleat ever to help those speed guys playing football.
SIKIDS.com: What was it like throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field in the commercial?
Hester: It was a very exciting time. All I heard before it was “just make sure you get it over the plate!” There were a lot of fans out there at that point and I was very nervous. But after you get it over the plate you feel like your accomplished a lot.