Unconventional, absurd, ridiculous, crazy, what?!? Just some of the words used to describe the First Round Draft Pick used by the Oakland Raiders in 1973. Why on earth would Owner Al Davis select a punter in the first round? 27 years later, Ray Guy was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame as a true punter. Ray Guy stated, “Now, the HOF has a complete team.”
In his 14 years with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, Ray Guy amassed a career full of HOF accolades. These accolades include, but are not limited to:
-Led the NFL in punting in 1974, 1975, and 1977
-Of his 1,049 punts, only three were blocked during his career
-First punter to be drafted in the First Round (1973)
-7x Pro Bowl selections (1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, & 1980)
-6x First-team All-Pro (1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, & 1978)
-2x Second-team All-Pro (1979 & 1980)
-3x Super Bowl Champion (XI, XV, XVIII)
-PFW Golden Toe Award (1975)
-First punter in NFL history to be inducted into the PFB HOF
A humble man who would rather remain in the background of a crowd than be heralded as a football legend. His upbringing kept him grounded and allowed him to strive for excellence at his craft. Ray Guy recognized many people who were responsible for him becoming a professional athlete, but none more than his Mom and Dad. Yet, among those who he credited for helping him along the way were two men, and he called them his two special friends. One, a football coach at Southern Mississippi named P.W. Underwood who he thanked for, “Allowing me to get an education, play football, and play baseball.” The other, the man himself, Al Davis. Of Davis, Guy stated, “He took a chance on me, a pure punter in 1973, and I can’t thank him enough.”
John Madden had the honor of presenting Ray Guy with his HOF jacket, and he introduced him to the world prior to Guy’s induction speech. When Madden saw Guy for the first time at a Raiders practice, he was booming the longest and highest footballs he’d ever seen. Madden walked up to Guy and told him that was enough, because they didn’t need him to get hurt. Guy stated, “Coach, I’m just warming up.” Madden went onto say, “When we (the Raiders) got Ray Guy, 4th down wasn’t as bad as it used to be.”
Pinning the opposing team on their side of the field is a necessary accessory to have in your bag of tricks as a football team. Ray Guy allowed the Raiders to do just that. He proved to the football world that punters are players too, and they deserve to be treated as such. With a punter like Ray Guy who averaged a hang time of 5 seconds and a punting average of 42.4 yards, there weren’t many teams who were going to get the opportunity to advance the ball on the Raiders.
Raider Nation is proud to have another Oakland Raider inducted into the PFB HOF. This now makes 22 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders players who have been inducted into the HOF. That’s an impressive number of players from a franchise that began in 1960. It’s a great year for Oakland Raiders football, not just due to the improved team working hard on the practice field in Napa, CA, but for a true Raider who has waited a long time to be given the honor he so deserved.
As a child of the 70’s and 80’s, I am so proud to be able to say that I saw him punt in person. I was able to bear witness to what will always be remembered as a Hall of Fame career. No play stands out more than the high snap he saved in Super Bowl XVIII against the Washington Redskins. He leaped into the air and caught the ball high above his head. He brought the ball down and got the punt away. There aren’t too many punters that can do what he did.
Congratulations to Punter Ray Guy for his induction into the PFB HOF. Now the #8 can be turned on its side and become the symbol for infinity. For as long as Amercian Football lasts, Ray Guy will infinitely be remembered and among the greats in Canton, Ohio. Ray Guy is the best punter to have ever punted a football.