We came across another bad snap during a previous Super Bowl, with a better ending. We’ll tell you about it in a bit. But it helps typify why former Thomson resident Ray Guy belongs as the first pure punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
After being eligible for the honor for 22 years, Guy finally was elected to the hall Saturday.
Guy was an outstanding punter. He led the National Football League in punting for three of his 14 pro years with the Oakland (and, for a time, the Los Angeles) Raiders. He punted the ball 1,049 times – and not one of them was returned for a touchdown. Only three punts were ever blocked in the 207 games he played in.
Guy kicked so high that they started keeping track of punters’ “hang time.” Guy kicked so high that they checked a football for helium after one of his punts hit the scoreboard at the Louisiana Superdome.
Guy changed the way professional football, and its fans, looked at punters.
Joe Horrigan, vice president of communications and exhibits for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, once said of Guy: “He’s the first punter you could look at and say, ‘He won games’.”
Several other athletic halls of fame beat paths to Guy’s door with appropriate honors. Also, the national award honoring collegiate football’s best punter is named the Ray Guy Award.
But enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, had eluded him.
“Good things are worth waiting for,” Guy said. “It’s just a matter of time when it will show up. And I knew it would, sooner or later.”
Now about that other bad snap. It’s in the words of Andy Barall, the NFL blogger for The New York Times:
“Early in the second quarter of Super Bowl XVIII, the Raiders, leading 7-0, faced a fourth-and-7 from the (Washington) Redskins’ 42. Guy set up for a directional punt toward the right sideline. Todd Christensen’s snap, however, was high and wide, forcing Guy to make a leaping one-handed catch. That alone would’ve been enough to save the Raiders from disaster. But he was also able, almost in one motion, to secure the ball with both hands, to gather himself, and to still get the punt away.
“When I think of Ray Guy, that’s the play I’ll always remember.”
It’s that kind of on-field poise under pressure that helps reveal a true hall-of-fame athlete.