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Devin Hester: Maximum Speed

4/5/2007

It's long been rumored, it's been hinted at, it's been lobbied for, and it's been perennially denied -- but now, an NFL player has finally achieved the near-impossible: meriting a perfect 100 in one of Madden NFL's proprietary skills ratings.

Chicago return man Devin Hester has attained perfection in the "Speed" category, gaining the maximum 100 rating in the upcoming Madden NFL 08 for his amazing wheels. Hester, who set an NFL single-season record with six returns for touchdowns in his rookie campaign of 2006, has been known as the "Windy City Flyer" for his unique ability to turn on the afterburners and bring a kick back for six points. His 100 rating tops the previous high of 99, given to such players as Deion Sanders, Randy Moss, Charles Woodson, and a couple others.

Hester racked up his six scores on three punt returns, two kick returns and an incredible 108-yard return of a missed field goal attempt against the New York Giants. Additionally, he took the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI 92 yards for a score, making him the first player ever to open the Super Bowl with a touchdown on the very first kick.

Hester has been known to have been lobbying members of the Madden NFL 08 development team for the top speed rating. He's certainly deserving of the honor; after all, there's pure speed and then there's football speed, which measures how fast a player can go weighed down with pads and equipment while 11 men on the other team try to bring him down. As he showed many times during his breakout rookie season, Hester's football speed is top-notch, and now Madden NFL 08 will pay him the ultimate respect by giving him a perfect rating in that category.

"That's just about the best thing you could have told me," Hester said with a huge smile, when informed of his new Speed rating. "It's an honor -- I don't know what to say, really."

How does he feel about being rated higher than his friend and mentor "Neon" Deion Sanders, who was once timed at 4.19 in the forty-yard dash and returned a kick or two in his day? "Deion has told me a bunch of times that I was as fast as he was," Hester replied diplomatically.

As fast as he is, the return man -- who also plays cornerback for the Bears -- still has some room for improvement in other areas, but like most NFL players that also play Madden, when we inquired about some of his other ratings, he was less than satisfied. "Well, since you're asking, my defensive awareness was low -- too low," he said, "and I definitely need to break more tackles. On a few of my returns last year I feel like I showed what I can do in that category."

Hester will just have to live with those "subpar" ratings for now, and really, the Breaking Tackles rating may not mean much in the end -- with a 100 Speed rating, who is going to catch him in the first place?