"The media, the false fans, you all got what you all wanted," Hester said. "Majority of you all wanted him out. As players, we wanted him in. I guess the false fans outruled us.
"I thought he was a great coach, probably one of the best coaches I have ever been around. He brought me in."
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Smith once called Hester the team's No. 1 wide receiver and the Bears paid him that way with a $30 million deal that also had an incentive-tied $10 million roster bonus for next year. Hester came into the league as a second-round pick and defensive back/return man. Now he has one year left on a deal and hasn't been producing as earlier in his career, so it seems unlikely he'll be back.
"He’s the coach that took a chance on me that other coaches wouldn’t," a visibly shaken Hester said. "I am hoping I did him right for the time we did have here. We had some great moments."
The NFL's all-time kick/punt return TD leader suggested at one point he might even be a candidate for retirement, but said he would go home and think about his future.
"So, I have my workers’ comp papers in my pocket," he said. "See how I feel, go home and talk to my wife, my family. See where we go from there. I’ve got two beautiful kids, man, young. Two boys. A lot of stress has been on my mind lately."
The worker comp papers, he said, were the result of injuries.
"I have had injuries here or there," he said. "That is part of football. Who walks away from this game without being injured?"
Hester said he could follow Smith if the former Bears coach gets a new job as a head coach.
"Most definitely. Who knows?" he said. "At the same time, I am a Bear for life. This is where I was born and raised from the start of football."
Hester would still like to finish in Chicago, but can't be certain with change the only certainty in Halas Hall now.
"Who knows," he said. "If it’s the right place. If not, I feel like I have done enough in the league where I established myself to be one of the elite players ever to play the game. God blessed me for seven years. The average years of an NFL player is about three. I made some accomplishments on my own, some goals I reached.
"Some more goals are out there I still felt I could achieve."
Hester still needs one more return TD to tie Deion Sanders for the all-time return TDs mark of 19, which includes interceptions and fumble returns.
Hester said he won't be watching closely to see who gets hired as coach.
"I’m not even really going to pay attention," he said. "I am going to go home and get away from football right now.
"I don’t even know if I want to play again, man. You know, that’s been on my mind for two years now."
Follow Bears reporter Gene Chamberlain on Twitter @CBSBears.