Devin Hester and the Deon Sanders Effect

It seemed like a throw away joke.  But to some Bear fans, this aside from Tom Sorenson at the Charlotte Observer had to have the ominous ring of truth.

Sorenson’s column focuses on what the Panthers will do with the first pick in the draft.  He starts and ends, of course, with Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.  He is, after all, a quarterback with intriguing physical talent and debatable intangible qualities.  But Sorenson considers others as well and this is where the average Bear fan can sit up and take notice:

“Newton is not the only player the Panthers love. There are at least two others, and they, too, played in the SEC. One is Georgia receiver A.J. Green, a certain NFL star. The other is Patrick Peterson, a Louisiana State cornerback and a new friend of Deion Sanders.

“An excellent return man, Peterson said he loves to run back kicks. Then he got advice from Deion. Kick returners can get hurt. Peterson announced he might not love to run back kicks.”

Anyone remember who else is a friend of Deon?

Somewhere in the back of my head I always wondered if Sanders had an undue influence on Bears return man Devin Hester.  It was hard not to notice that Hester’s production tailed off after he befriended Deon and to my eyes Hester definitely looked a lot more tentative in 2008 and 2009 than he had in 2006 and 2007.  Admittedly last year Hester showed better but he’s still not back where he was his first two years in the league.

So here is the question:  Is Peterson the only return man who Deon has been advising to be careful running back kicks?  I really doubt it.

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