Not your average Guy

File/Staff
Ray Guy's 14 years in NFL reinvented the way people looked at punting's role football games.

Consider the punter.

 

In the world of football, punters typically don't acquire high profiles like quarterbacks, or draw a stadium full of cheers like running backs. They're not mobbed by fans on the street. They're not overanalyzed on John Madden's electronic chalkboard. And when a football movie comes out, the film's dashing young hero is never the team's punter.

You'd think punters don't matter much.

But Thomson High School graduate Ray Guy changed all that.

Madden - before he took up his electronic chalkboard - knew how much punters matter back in 1973, when his Oakland Raiders made NFL history by drafting Guy, a full-time punter, in the first round.

We're not just saying this because Guy is one of our hometown heroes, but it's no exaggeration that Guy changed attitudes toward punters. They're the players who literally put opposing offenses in their place - hopefully a place as close as possible to their own end zones.

A punter can be invaluable to a team's success. In so small part because of Guy's superior punting skills, the Raiders were a powerhouse in the 1970s and early '80s, winning three Super Bowls in that span.

Joe Horrigan, vice president of communications and exhibits for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, once said as much about Guy: "He's the first punter you could look at and say, 'He won games'."

Speaking of the Hall of Fame, guess who's a finalist on this year's election ballot? Guy - again. Incredibly, despite being eligible for induction since 1992, and despite being on the ballot several times, Guy does not yet occupy a deserved spot at the gridiron shrine in Canton, Ohio.

Imagine that. An NFL punter who never had a punt returned for a touchdown. A punter who never missed a game in a 14-year career. A punter who had only three of his punts blocked. A punter whose on-field performance likely is responsible for the coining of the phrase "hang time."

And he's not in the Hall of Fame.

Why?

There are others on this year's ballot who were outstanding at their positions - receivers Michael Irvin and Art Monk, and offensive guard Russ Grimm, just to name a few. But there is no player on this year's Hall of Fame ballot who changed the way fans looked at football.

Give Ray Guy his rightful place in Canton.

 

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