"Holy Toledo!"

January 31, 2014

Ray Guy Into The NFL Hall Of Fame?

Filed under: NFL, Oakland Raiders — Bill @ 11:40 am
 
For years we have been saying that Ray Guy should be in the NFL Hall of Fame.  Well it’s that time of year once again, and the newest members will be announced Saturday night.  Call it my intuition, or maybe a contact close to the voting, but my prediction is that this will be the year for Ray Guy!
 
It certainly would be about time.  Someone once asked, when discussing who should be in or who should be out of the Hall, “Can you write the history of the NFL and leave out this person?”   Well of course you could leave out Ray Guy, but it would be a glaring omission.  His ability to alter his team’s field position helped the Raiders in being one of the dominant teams of the 1970’s.  We all know how he was a 1st round draft pick by Al Davis, something teams just didn’t do.  You might also recall that Ray guy was responsible for the Superdome to have to raise it’s scoreboard, because his kicks kept hitting it during games.  Personally I think his greatest play was in Super Bowl XVIII, when he leaped high to barely snag an errant snap from Todd Christensen, thus saving a huge potential turnover, and keeping momentum on the Raiders side.
 
Some look at his numbers and say they don’t measure up.  Well if we just went by numbers accountants would decide who belongs into the Hall of Fame.  Anybody who knows anything about this game knows that he was the premier punter in the NFL during his career.  One player describes how surprised he was when his teammates would get up off the bench just to watch Guy punt.
 
On a personal note, back when my vision was much better I used to be a sports photographer.  I spent many days on the fields at the El Rancho Tropicana, home of the Raiders annual summer camp.  On several occasions I was able to stand just a few feet behind Ray as he practiced his punting.  What first hit you was the sound, much like a gun going off.  TV didn’t capture that sound properly, trust me when I say it was like a clap of thunder when his foot hit that ball.  The next thing you noticed was how high the ball soared into the air, getting smaller and smaller.  As gravity began to pull it back to earth you glanced downfield to see punt returner Ira Matthews waiting to catch it.  Even with the best of vision I could not have caught it.  Way too high, way to wobbly in the wind.  Then you think about how, during a game, Ira would have to catch a punt while having many large men running full speed at him wanting to blast him (but that’s another story). 
 
Ray Guy’s kick was a beautiful example of physics, it was a supreme athlete, performing a skill at a level so rare that when you witnessed it in person, you would never forget it for the rest of your life.
 
Let’s hope for Ray’s sake he gets the call Saturday night, a call long overdue.
 
William Ray Guy
Hall of Fame
2014
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3 Comments »

  1. He was the best that ever was at the time. is anyone even close to ray guy now?

    Comment by uncle buck — January 31, 2014 @ 11:43 am

  2. The only Hall of Famers to lead the NFL in punting were also position players with great numbers, reputations and championships claimed while playing on offense or defense in addition to their punting duties. QB Sammy Baugh led the NFL in punting (average yards per punt) for 4 years in a row, from 1940-43, with an astounding 51.4 yard avg. in 1940. Baugh also led his Washington Redskins to 5 NFL Championship games, winning two, from 1937-45.

    Yale Lary led the NFL three times in punting avg. while also playing free safety for the Detroit Lions from 1952-64. Lary was All-Pro in 9 of his 11 years in the league and finished with 50 interceptions. He missed the ’54 and ’55 seasons when he was called up to army duty. The Lions won 3 championships during his career, they lost the championship game in 1954 while he was in the army. Lary also returned 3 punts for TDs, which is ninth most in the NFL record book.

    Norm Van Brocklin led the NFL in punting in 1955 while playing QB with the Los Angeles Rams with a 44.6 yard avg. This was no fluke, as “The Dutchman” punted for all 11 years he quarterbacked in the NFL. A 6-time All-Pro with L.A in his 8 years there and All-Pro all three years with the Philadelphia Eagles – ending in 1960 with an NFL Championship win over Vince Lombardi’s Packers – the only championship game loss for Lombardi in his coaching career.

    The only other Hall of Fame punter to lead the league in punting for at least one year is QB Sid Luckman, who did it in 1939 with the Bears.

    In a list of punters with the most NFL career punts Van Brocklin is 87th with 523 punts – not one of the 86 punters in front of him on that list is in the NFL Hall of Fame!

    The only other Hall of Fame NFL players, who also punted at least 122 times, which is the least number of punts on the all-time career punt list are; Charlie Trippi, Chicago Cardinal, HB-QB, ’47-’55, Bill Dudley, Pitt., Det., Wash., ’42-’53, Ace Parker, Brooklyn, Boston, N.Y., QB-HB, ’37-’46, Jackie Smith, TE, St. Louis Cardinals, who punted for 3 years during a 15-year run with St. Louis, Bob Waterfield, Cleveland-Los Angeles Rams, QB, ’45-’52, who was the original Punt, Pass and kick Champ, leading the league in passing, FG-extra points and recording punts of 86 and 88 yards during his years with the Rams. The only other NFL Hall of Fame punter is the legendary Tom Landry, who was inducted as a head coach, but, like Yale Lary, played DB and punted for the N.Y. Giants from ’49-’55. Landry never led the NFL in punting avg., but led in total punting yardage three times in 7 years and finished with 32 interceptions.

    So, back to William Raymond Guy, who Bill correctly calls the premier punter of his day. I loved to watch Guy punt. To me, he and Yale Lary, along with another former Raider, Shane Lechler, are the three best punters in NFL history. I’ll admit that I didn’t see Sammy Baugh punt and maybe he could be one of the 4 greatest. If so, that means that the two of these 4 greats, who are not yet in the Hall, are punters only with no other position to their resume.

    It’s been 50 years since the last NFL Hall of Fame punter retired – my personal favorite Yale Lary. Ray Guy is my second favorite – BTW, I’m a Lion fan first and foremost. Bill and I actually talk about punters quite bit because of Guy, being his guy.

    Let’s face it – punters, like FG kickers, just don’t get Hall of Fame credit even if they are great. Whether Ray Guy makes the Hall of Fame or not, IMO, he is one of the greatest, if not the greatest punter in NFL history.

    Comment by Fan Since 57 — January 31, 2014 @ 1:46 pm

  3. Nice stuff Lions guy, loved the line about Waterfield being the original punt, pass, & kick champion. Because roster sizes were so small in the ‘40’s & ‘50’s the job of punting & kicking was handled by a player who was already on the roster. Like the men you mentioned Blanda & Summerall were football players who happened to kick.

    The only “true kicker” in the NFL Hall of Fame until Saturday was the Kansas City Chiefs kicker Jan Stenerud. Elected into the Hall in 1991, Stenerud played for 19 season including stints with Green Bay & Minnesota.

    The days of the multi-function kickers lasted into the 1980’s. If you will recall Dan Pastorini & Danny White, both primarily QB’s, also punted for their respective teams. When opposing teams began to realize the tactical advantage of having a punter like Ray Guy, combined with increased roster sizes, the days of the multi-functional punter quickly died. These days it is not unheard of for a team to carry two kickers, one for field goals & one for kickoffs, this is in addition to their punter.

    As we have discussed about Sammy Baugh’s season record for punting average, it is a bit deceiving. It’s easier to have a higher average when you have far fewer attempts. A couple years ago Shane Lechler averaged 50 yards a punt, and did it with more than double the number of kicks. Baugh’s record, while impressive, doesn’t really compare to that of Lechler’s numbers.

    Another outstanding punter that comes to mind is Reggie Roby. However as good as Guy & Roby were, still the best punter I’ve ever seen is Shane Lechler.

    Comment by Holy Toledo! — February 4, 2014 @ 4:02 pm


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