In response to rule changes by the NFL's Competition Committee, kick return specialist Devin Hester has announced his retirement from football in order to follow his dream as an Olympic sprinter.
The Chicago Bears thanked Hester for his record 14 career kick returns for touchdowns, and wished him luck in the next phase of his career. Despite losing their future hall of fame kick returner, sources inside the Bears organization have confirmed that Hester will be replaced by a large bale of hay.
According to one NFL scout, "The bale of hay had a great team workout yesterday. Going into the combine I thought he'd be more of a blocking-type player, but after these rule changes, I think he'll fit in perfectly as the Bears' new return man."
Many teams were initially disappointed with the bale of hay's lackluster time in the 40 yard dash, but his never-blink attitude really impressed the scouts. "He has all the intangibles," noted Bears GM Jerry Angelo, "and his ability to stand firm with tacklers bearing down on him is why we plan to pick him up in the first round of the draft."
Despite the Bears' interest, draft guru Mel Kiper, Jr. has been skeptical of the bale of hay's skill set. "His hands leave something to be desired. He may have gotten by playing Division II ball, but he'll need some serious one-on-one coaching to succeed at the next level. In my opinion, he's a late second-rounder at best."
Despite the bale of hay's questionable catching ability, most scouts agree that he has a bright future in the NFL. "Sure he has a few flaws, but what he lacks in explosiveness he more than makes up for with discipline, work ethic, and toughness."
Hester had only good things to say about his replacement. "He's a player's player. He's not a big talker, but he leads by example. He leaves it all out there on the field."
When reached for comment, Tim Condon, the bale of hay's agent, said, "Any teams looking to draft the bale of hay should know that his offseason barn workouts are going great. If the horses don't eat him, he'll be more than ready come draft day."
Condon also represents hay's cousin, bale of pine straw, a left guard from Michigan State.