Returning kicks and punts in the NFL is a high-pressure job. These returners have the ability to change the game with one play and have made a significant impact on the field throughout NFL history.
The top five returners of all time
#1, Devin Hester
Devin Hester played for the Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, and Seattle Seahawks from 2006 to 2016. He holds the NFL record for most return touchdowns with 20 and is considered the best kick returner of all time. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time first-team All-Pro and was named to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team.
#2, Gale Sayers
Gale Sayers played for the Chicago Bears from 1965 to 1971. He is considered one of the most elusive and dynamic returners in NFL history. He returned six kicks for touchdowns in his career and was known for his quickness and agility. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and a four-time first-team All-Pro and was named to the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade Team.
#3, Brian Mitchell
Brian Mitchell played for the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants from 1990 to 2003. He holds the NFL record for most combined kick return yards with 23,517. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and a two-time first-team All-Pro and was named to the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team.
#4, Mel Gray
Mel Gray played for the Detroit Lions, St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Oilers from 1981 to 1994. He returned five kicks for touchdowns in his career and was known for his speed and elusiveness. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and was named to the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team.
#5, Josh Cribbs
Josh Cribbs, who played for the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts from 2005 to 2014, is known for his versatility and ability to return both kicks and punts. He holds the record for most kick return touchdowns by a Browns player.
All of these players have left a lasting impact on the NFL, and their legacies will be remembered for years to come. Their ability to consistently make big plays on special teams, their statistics and their awards are a testament to their greatness as kick returners. Their speed, vision, quick decision-making, elusiveness and versatility have set the bar for future players to follow.