The news that former Oakland Raiders Punter, William Ray Guy, was one of the two senior nominees for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame was a surprise, despite the fact, that his induction is long overdue. The announcement means that Guy is a finalist, for the eighth time, and automatically joins the pool of 15 modern-day players and will face a vote on the day before Super Bowl XLVIII.
The Hall of Fame selection committee has been down this road before. The fact that Ray Guy has had to wait this long is a travesty and no fault of his own. It has taken the Hall's selection committee several years to figure out that punters matter. Once this became blatantly obvious to the voters that a punter needed to breakthrough and enter the Hall Ray Guy is most deserving.
Despite the few naysayers that remain stating that the Hall of Fame is not a place for punters. Obviously, people who have failed to understand that there are three phases of a football game 1) Offense 2) Defense 3) Special Teams and success occurs when a team is proficient in all three.
Others will state that their contributions are insignificant and don't have a real impact on a game. That argument could not be further from the truth. Guy was the first pure punter selected in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft. Guy was one of 13 first round selections to make the Pro Bowl that year along with three Hall of Fame Players (Patriots John Hannah, Bills Guard Joe DeLamielleure and Chargers Dan Fouts) from that draft class.
Guy was the first pure punter selected in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft. Guy was one of 13 first round selections to make the Pro Bowl that year along with three The term "hang-time" on a punt entered the NFL vernacular because of Ray Guy's punts. Guy was the punter on the NFL's 75 Anniversary team.
Guy is a seven-time Pro Bowl player and member of the NFL's 1970's all decade team. Ray Guy was a punter that used picture perfect technique and a tremendous leg whip to kick the ball high and keep it there so long that there was little chance of a return. It was his hang time and placement that made him dangerous on the field.
An opponent took a ball he punted and had it tested for helium!
"I was never much on hang-time until we got Ray, but then we started clocking how long his punt hung in the air. Sometimes he kept it up there for six seconds!" A quote from John Madden, Former Raider Head Coach.
"He's the first punter you could look at and say, He won games." A quote from Joe Horrigan, Pro Football Hall of Fame Historian. Ray placed an astonishing 57 punts inside the 20-yard line during the 1984-85 season. The career statistics are phenomenal but even more impressive is that here is a guy whose only concern was helping his team win games.
Guy was able to effectively pin the opponent deep in their own territory, and if the defense upheld their part of the bargain, the Raiders invariably won the exchange of punts and the field position battle. In the 1976 Pro Bowl, one of his punts hit the giant TV screen hanging from the rafters in the Louisiana Superdome.
The NFL created the Hall of Fame to keep the history of the league and recognize the all-time greats. The Hall of Fame is a place to honor their difference makers. The NFL Hall of Fame is a place for those players that changed the game at their positions. In the event any argument is made that a punter is insignificant Ray Guy's career statistics would prove that statement incorrect.
• Played in 207 consecutive games
• Punted 1,049 times for 44,493 yards, averaging 42.4 yards per punt, with a 33.8 net yards average
• Had 210 punts inside the 20-yard line (Not counting his first three seasons, when the NFL didn't keep track of this stat), with just 128 touchbacks
• Led the NFL in punting three times
• Had a streak of 619 consecutive punts before having one blocked
• Has a record of 111 career punts in post season games
• Had five punts of over 60 yards during the 1981 season
• Never had a punt returned for a touchdown
Let's ponder a punter's importance for a moment. Reminiscing about Super Bowl XVIII—arguably his best performance—against the Washington Redskins. When the Raiders' offense faltered just outside the range of placekicker Chris Bahr, Guy, known for his power, showed a great deal of finesse by booting a 27-yard punt that pinned the Redskins on their own 12-yard line late in the first half.
On the very next play, Raiders' linebacker Jack Squirek intercepted Redskins QB Joe Theisman and returned it for a touchdown. This game changing play gave the Raiders 21-3 halftime lead, which would not have been possible without Ray Guy. The Raiders would eventually win 38-9.
Since 2000, the Ray Guy Award is presented to college football's top punter by the Greater Augusta Sports Council.
Jeff Little is the host of "The Locker Room" a daily sports talk radio show based out of Los Angeles 6-8 pm PST www.sportsjourney.com Follow on twitter @JeffLittle32, Facebook, Pinterest