Ray Guy made the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a punter.
His greatness can be summed up in that one statement. Punters don’t get the same respect as those who play offense or defense, but Guy does. He’s been considered the greatest catcher since breaking through with the Oakland Raiders nearly five decades ago, and the template for the position. The Ray Guy Award is given to the best punter in college football.
Guy died at age 72, according to the NFL and the University of Southern Mississippi. Southern Miss said he died Thursday morning after a long illness.
Guy was a legend in the game. It is a rare level for a hunter to achieve.
Guy made history before he played an NFL game. He was the first punter taken in the first round of the draft. The Raiders drafted him 23rd overall.
“I thought he might be the greatest in the league then, but I changed my mind,” Raiders coach John Madden said via Southern Miss’ announcement of Guy’s death. “I think Ray proved he’s always the best.”
That pick paid off immediately. Guy was a pro bowler as a freshman. He would make six straight Pro Bowls to start his career and seven overall.
Guy brought a rare level of athleticism to the position. He played safety in college. He was drafted by Major League Baseball teams as a pitcher four different seasons. Guy made a 61-yard field goal in college, which set a new record at the time. He was the Raiders’ emergency quarterback at times.
“I was a good athlete and could have been a Major League pitcher or an NBA basketball player, but I knew God had something special for me,” Guy said during his Hall of Fame induction speech. “And ultimately one game will stand out above the other, and it did. It was my destiny to play in the NFL with the Raiders and I’ve never looked back or questioned my decision.”
He was a member of all three of the Raiders’ Super Bowl championship teams, and that’s no accident. He constantly rotated the field position for the team with his fast batting.
Guy played in the NFL from 1973-86 and spent his entire career with the Raiders.
It took a while for Guy to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. No other primitive hunter had come before. But if anyone makes it as a hunter, it’s Guy. He was part of the class of 2014. Guy is the only primary punter still in the Hall of Fame.
Guy was also the first punter in the College Football Hall of Fame. He was recruited in 2004.
There are debates about the greatest player at every position in NFL history. You won’t get much debate about the all-time team poacher. Guy is unanimously considered the greatest hunter of all time. It is a special heritage.