Tuesday’s NFL: Kick-return specialist Hester retires

Associated Press

Devin Hester, the all-purpose speedster who holds the NFL record for kick return touchdowns with 20, has announced his retirement.

In a post on social media, Hester, 35, said he realized it was time.

“Good news: Commissioner Goodell, you can put the kickoff back at the 30,” Hester wrote. “Bad news: Y’all will have to find a new favorite returner.”

Hester played for Atlanta, Baltimore and Seattle, but his best years were with the Bears, which took him in the second round (57th overall) out of Miami in 2006.

He is the third-leading punt returner in NFL history and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2014.

“The kind of production he had was very, very difficult,” Bears coach John Fox said. “He changed games.”

In his retirement note, Hester showed the sort of flair that defined his career.

He mentioned the “confidence and swagger” he developed in college and learning to “act like you’re the best player on the field, then back it up.” He thanked the fans in Chicago as well as former Bears coach Lovie Smith while recalling the ovations he got at Soldier Field.

He closed with a reference to the Hall of Fame: “Hopefully next time I see y’all it’ll be in Canton.”

Extra points

The Steelers placed linebacker Ryan Shazier on injured reserve because of a spinal injury suffered in a victory over Cincinnati on Dec. 4.

Shazier, 25, underwent spinal stabilization surgery last week and remains in the hospital. The team has not released the exact nature of Shazier’s injury and his long-term prognosis.

... The Broncos placed guard Ron Leary on injured reserve.

He was the cornerstone of Denver’s free agent class last winter when he signed a four-year, $35 million deal with $20 million in guarantees after spending his first five seasons in Dallas.

Leary has been replaced in the lineup by Connor McGovern.

... Falcons running back Tevin Coleman and (concussion) and left guard Andy Levitre (triceps) were not on the field. Levitre’s streak of 140 consecutive starts ended