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Devin Hester, the legendary kick/punt returner who had his most memorable years with the Chicago Bears, gave an interview with Bleacher Report in which he impugned Jay Cutler’s leadership:
Devin Hester tells @MasterTes what went wrong in Chicago with Jay Cutler and the team: “He’s the best quarterback when it comes to accuracy, power, knowledge of the game. … When it comes to leadership—the worst.”
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 30, 2020
“He’s not really a sociable guy,” Hester said of Cutler. “He’s not a talker. He picks one or two guys and he just leashes on them, and he separates himself from everyone else. As a quarterback, I’d tell him to his face today that, to me, my years in the NFL — I played 11 years — he’s the best quarterback when it comes to accuracy, power, knowledge of the game. The best quarterback, hands down, that I ever played with. Now when it comes to leadership, the worst.”
This is at least the third time Hester has taken a shot at Cutler, but this is probably the most pointed. In 2014, while a member of the Falcons, Hester praised Matt Ryan as a quarterback who “loves even the walk-ons.” It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know what the unspoken basis of comparison was here. In 2015, in another interview giving credit to Matt Ryan, Hester said, “”If we weren’t on the same page, Jay just didn’t say anything to me … He just wouldn’t (throw) to me. That’s just how he was.”
It bears mentioning here that while Hester is on the short-list for greatest kick and punt returner in NFL history, he was not an extraordinary wide receiver. He had some decent years as a pass catcher — in 2009, his best season as a wide receiver, he caught 57 balls for 757 yards and 3 touchdowns — but he didn’t run the greatest routes or have the best hands. Of course, he was very fast.
That’s not to justify Cutler being apparently standoffish, and no one reading this story is surprised to hear Hester say that, but there were times as teammates that you wouldn’t blame Cutler for being frustrated with Hester as a receiver.