7-time Pro-Bowler first punter voted into Canton’s Pro Football Hall of Fame
By MARK MAYNARDProkicker News Senior Writer
NEW YORK — Ray Guy, a trailblazing punter who defined the position, has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The 64-year-old Guy made it in on his eighth attempt at being voted into the shrine in Canton, Ohio, becoming the first punter to make it into the Hall of Fame.
Guy was a senior nominee along with Claude Humphrey, a ferocious defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons in the 1960s.
It has been a long wait for Guy and the culiminating crown of achievement for the man most consider the best punter in NFL history.
He dominated the position, was a three-time Super Bowl winner, a collegiate All-American, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and was named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and the NFL All-Century Team. The award given to college football’s best punter is named after him — the Ray Guy Award.
Guy’s exclusion from the Hall of Fame was always a mystery and disappointment to him. He was a finalist seven times previously.
The still lean, 6-3 Guy wasn’t always primarily a punter. At Southern Mississippi, he handled place-kicking duties and was a talented defensive back. Guy, who played at Southern Miss from 1970-72, still has the second-most career interceptions in school history.
Guy could also throw a baseball as the Cincinnati Reds knew when they drafted him out of high school. He could throw it 98 to 100 mph and “hit my spots,” he said. Guy threw two no-hitters while pitching for Southern Miss. The Reds came calling again after college but the Raiders making him their first round draft choice in 1973 made the NFL too enticing.
Guy spent his entire 14-season, 207-game career with the Raiders. His career punting average was 42.4 yards and he averaged more than 40 yards 13 of his 14 seasons. The only time he fell below the 40-yard average mark came during the strike shortened (nine games) 1982 season, when he averaged 39.1 yards.
Only three of his 1,049 punts were blocked and he ranked second all-time at the time of his retirement by punting 619 straight times without a block in a period from the 1979 season until the end of his career in 1986.
Guy led the NFL in punting in 1974, 1975, and 1977 and finished second three times and third once. A veteran of 22 post-season games, he added 111 punts for a 42.4 average to his career totals.