Ray Guy almost didn’t answer one of the most important phone calls of his life.
In February, the man considered the greatest punter of all time anxiously waited in his New York City hotel room for THE phone call – the one where he’d hear he’d finally be selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. When the call came, it didn’t come from Canton, Ohio, where the hall of fame is located. Instead, he stared at a 704 area code on his phone.
Guy thought about not answering the call coming from Anaheim, Calif. Good thing he picked up the call. David Baker, the new president of the hall called to deliver the good news. After decades of waiting, Guy, in his 23rd year of eligibility and a senior nominee, was finally selected to be a member of the hall’s Class of 2014.
“All of a sudden my legs gave out from under me and I fell back in my chair,” said Guy, the hall of fame’s first true punter. “Ever since then, it’s been a whirlwind.”
Guy made his first appearance Thursday night back in Augusta since learning of his induction, which takes place August 2. He was the keynote speaker at the Augusta Sports Council’s Greater Augusta Medals for Excellence in Sports (G.A.M.E.S.) awards banquet.
Guy spoke about growing up and overcoming challenges. He also touched on his upcoming Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. With so many people supporting him through the years, he said the honor will not be solely about him.
“When I go up to Canton and accept this, it is not mine,” he said. “It is ours.”
Guy, 64, was an outstanding multi-sport athlete in high school and college. At Thomson, he led the Bulldogs to consecutive state championships in 1967 and 1968. Guy was also a standout athlete in baseball, basketball and track.
He then went to Southern Mississippi, where he became an All-American playing mainly punter and defensive back. He then became the first – and only – punter selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders.
In 14 NFL seasons, he led the league in punting three times, was an All-Pro six times and finished his career with an average of 42.4 yards per punt.
And later this summer, he will be immortalized.