Ray Guy has kicked it around in a few Super Bowls in his days with the Raiders. But the treat he'll enjoy this Super Sunday is even more rare - kicking it back at home in McDuffie County watching his Raiders play for the Lombardi Trophy.
"I'm normally at some kind of casino or doing some Super Bowl party," Guy said of the national appearances his NFL fame attracts. "This is like the first time in 13 or 14 years I haven't been away from home. It's gonna probably feel good to sit here and watch it in my own home."
Sharing his living room with a few close friends, listening to his old Raiders coach John Madden on the television and cheering on the Silver and Black as they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and ex-Oakland coach Jon Gruden - for a regular Guy it doesn't get much better than that.
"It's going to be a good game and I'm anxious to see this one," he said.
The only true punter ever selected in the first round of the NFL Draft doesn't get to watch too much football these days. The rare moments have been precious this season.
It's been a big year for teams Guy left behind. His Thomson Bulldogs - where he played on consecutive state championship teams in 1967-68 - ended a 17-year drought with a Class AAAA title at the Brickyard in December. Guy got to see parts of that on television, as well, in between festivities for his son's wedding that weekend.
"I said I might go, but they told me, 'You haven't been to a game all year - don't go,"' Guy said. "People around here are superstitious."
People around Thomson must like the Raiders chances considering the story line is a little familiar. Oakland hasn't been to the NFL's biggest game in 19 years since Guy was a Raider. Like Thomson (5-0), Oakland (3-0) has never lost a title shot.
"It's been a long dry spell," Guy said of both his teams. "If fate holds it's about right on schedule. I can't say whether it's an omen or whatever, but it's a good sign. Black and silver and black and gold (Thomson). Anything's possible."
With all the graybeards on this Raiders team that has been dubbed by some the "Gray and Black," who's to say a 53-year-old Guy couldn't still be hanging punts and nailing coffin corners?
Well, Guy for one.
"Man, what are you talking about?" Guy said. "I don't even get out in this cold weather now."
Guy retired in 1987 when he was about the same age as current Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon and a couple years younger than wide receiver Jerry Rice. Guy knew then that he was done.
"Even though I was probably doing the same thing I was for years, mentally I got to the point where it wasn't worth it," Guy said.
Playing in Super Bowls in 1976, '80 and '83, however, were well worth a career avoiding punt blockers and kicking the ball high and away. Guy knows how special these Raiders and Bucs will feel when they take the field in San Diego.
"I still get goosebumps when I think about how it was back then," he said. "If I had to summarize the whole thing I'd just say it was an honor to play in the NFL all those years and especially for the Raiders."
So how about a prediction? Guy had a gut feeling last month that the championship would come down to Tampa Bay and Oakland. Who does an ex-Raider think will win tonight?
Whatever's in his gut, Guy's not sharing.
"Of course you know I'm pulling for the Raiders all the way," he said. "It's gonna be a good, hard-fought game. And there may be a lot of fights."
Certainly worth pulling up a sofa and watching.
Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219 or email@example.com.
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