CANTON, Ohio — Ray Guy slipped on the jacket Friday night. A perfect fit.
The first pure punter elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Guy received his gold jacket at a dinner at the Canton Civic Center. The gold jacket signifies that Guy, after seven previous times rejected as a finalist for the hall, is officially a Hall of Famer, one of 280 players to be inducted.
“The gold jacket seals it up,” he said. “Once you put it on and wrap that thing around you, you know now that you are part of an elite group.”
The Gold Jacket Dinner was the precursor to today’s festivities. Guy, 64, will partake in the Grand Parade this morning through downtown Canton. In the evening, Guy, along with Derrick Brooks, Claude Humphrey, Walter Jones, Andre Reed, Michael Strahan and Aeneas Williams, will formally be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
After a standout career at Thomson High School and at the University of Southern Mississippi, Guy continued his success with the Oakland (and then Los Angeles) Raiders. In 14 seasons, he made seven Pro Bowl appearances and was a member of three Super Bowl champion squads.
Long considered by many the greatest punter in NFL history, Guy became famous for his towering punts that hung in the air. Because of his high kicks, a new phrase was added to the football
vocabulary: hang time.
Despite his success, Guy received little love from the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters. He was selected a finalist for the first time in 1992. He became a finalist again in 1995, ’97, ’99, 2002, ’07 and ’08. Guy finally broke through earlier this year as a senior nominee.
“He was tremendous. I’m very glad he got in,” said Jan Stenerud, the only pure placekicker in the Hall of Fame. “It finally validates that punting is important.”
Guy took off last week from his job at Southern Miss, where he works as the school’s director of the M-Club Alumni Association and Community Relations.
He said the emotion of becoming immortalized has started to hit him the past few days.
“Now, it’s soaked in,” he said. “To say I’m the first punter to be elected into the Hall of Fame is a great honor and a great feeling to me.”