The NFL took one step toward the elimination of the kickoff, much to the dismay of all-time returner Devin Hester (see 14 of his 17 kick returns for TDs by clicking here). Just seven months after Commissioner Roger Goodell said the kickoff may be removed from all games, the NFL announced it will be dropped from the 2014 Pro Bowl.
“(Making the Pro Bowl) was one of my goals for this season,” Hester told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. “I won’t make the Pro Bowl. They can’t do that. … If you are taking the returner out of the Pro Bowl, you’re taking two positions out. That will suck for me. They are trying to change up the whole game of football and they’re messing with people’s jobs and lives.”
However, Hester could actually be an even bigger threat if the NFL replaces the kickoff with a “4th-and-15″ that would let teams either punt from their own 30 instead of kicking off, or go for it in lieu of the on-side kick.
While three percent of Hester’s kickoff returns have gone for touchdowns, he is even more impressive when returning punts, taking five percent back for touchdowns. If kickoffs had been replaced by punts for his entire career, that would project to a career 20 return touchdowns instead of his actual 17.