William Ray Guy has become the first punter ever elected to the Hall of Fame, but to truly tell the tale of the greatest ever to punt the ball, we would have to go back to his college days at the University of Southern Mississippi. At Southern Miss, all he did was kick field goals in snowstorms, nail 93 yard punts and intercepted 18 passes while playing safety, he could also play quarterback. Not only did he excel at football, but he played baseball and was drafted by the MLB as a pitcher out of high school. Guy chose to go to college though and by the end of his collegiate career he had earned All-American honors for his part as a defensive back. When it came down to the end of his career at SMU, he had All-American honors who averaged 44.7 yards per punt. In 1973, Guy became the first punter selected in the first round, as the Raiders grabbed as their 23rd pick of the NFL draft.
At 6'3 and 195 pounds he played for both the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, In 207 game, 14 year career, not only was he the Raiders punter, but was used as a place kicker, and emergency quarterback. He was a game changer, as he got the Raiders out of many tight spots, by punting the ball far, deep, and high, which allowed the special team to get down field and make the tackle.
One of the most unique things about Guy, is his leg kick. He would extend his leg above his head as he punted the ball, and it became almost a blend with his upper torso, his plant leg would rise just a few inches off the ground as he made contact with the ball. It was magical once the ball left his foot. He would average 42.4 yards per attempt in his career and finished with more than 40 yards per punt in 13 of his 14 years, and the year he came up short (39.1 yard average), was the strike shortened year in 1982, and if you think his long leg kick put him in danger of getting his punts blocked, forget it, he had just three blocks in 1049 attempts. Included in that was a streak of 619 straight from 1979 to the last punt of his career (1986) without a block. In 1976, he booted one so high that it crashed into the Super dome television screen, 90 feet off the ground, after that, they decided it was best to move it up to 200 feet.
Guy led the NFL in punting for the 1974, 1975, and 1977 seasons. He was a participant of seven Pro-Bowls, named All-Pro six times and All-AFC seven times. When the lights shined greatly in the playoffs, Guy also was on his game. He was in 22 post-season games, finished with 111 punts and a 42.4 average. In two playoff games against the Broncos and Chargers he had punts of 74 and 71 yards. Ray Guy also had the accuracy in his punts. He has been credited with 209 inside the 20 punts, in the 11 years the NFL kept the statistic, as it was not recorded up till then.
He was named the best punter in the 75th NFL Anniversary team, but even this could not punch his ticket into the Hall of Fame. He had to wait and wait. Then a phone call came in on the 21st of August 2013, and was notified by the Seniors Committee that he would be a finalist, and on February 1st, 2014 it became permanent that he was elected to the 2014 Hall of Fame class. “I almost dropped the phone when they called me,” Guy said. “Talk about a great feeling.”After being a finalist seven times and not getting in, Guy was delighted to become the 22nd member of the Raiders who will get a bust in Canton, Ohio on August 1. “Good things are worth waiting for, Guy said. “I knew it would happen sooner or later. It had to. Whether it was me or someone else. But sooner or later it had to happen because (punting) is a part of a football game.”
John Madden will represent Guy in the Hall of Fame, as under his coaching he became a Super Bowl Champion three times, and pushed terms such as "Hang Time" and "Coffin Corner" into a whole new light. He was a defensive weapon that no team could adjust for. With Ray Guy, the Raiders knew they always had a chance. “Having Ray Guy meant having a chance to make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl,” Hall of Fame cornerback and teammate Willie Brown said.
Even though Guy had to auction off his rings, after declaring bankruptcy, he has turned himself around. At this time he is conducting punting clinics and camps for kids. Ray also believes that his induction also means something for those he is teaching. "It's going to give the younger generation hope that there is a place for us...if that's your dream, go for it."