Guy might get call today

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Ray Guy is a  finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2007.  File/Staff
Ray Guy is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2007.

Ray Guy spent Friday afternoon cooking a big pot of sausage chowder.

"I don't know if I'm hungry," he said, "or if this is just something to do."

The NFL great tried to occupy his time in Thomson, taking his mind off the obvious.

Guy is one of 17 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2007. A press conference will be held at 2:30 p.m. today to announce the election results.

There are 15 modern-era candidates - former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, wide receiver Michael Irvin, lineman Bruce Matthews and running back Thurman Thomas are some of the standouts - as well as two nominated by the Hall of Fame's Senior Committee.

Guy is bidding to become the first pure punter elected.

"I really believe he's going to get in," said Rick Sang, executive director of the Ray Guy kicking and punting academy. "I think the voters finally recognize he deserves it."

This is the sixth time Guy has advanced to the final 15, the first time since 2002. Hall of Fame voters meet every year during Super Bowl week and reduce the list from 15 to 10 to six nominees.

To get elected, a candidate must garner 80 percent of the committee's vote (32 of 40 votes). Voters must elect at least three candidates, and they can select all six.

Don't expect Guy to sit around waiting for a phone call.

"(Today) is Saturday to me," he said. "I hope my wife doesn't have too many chores for me to do."

Guy, a three-time Super Bowl champion, is the man everyone refers to when talking about the greatest punter ever. He was the first punter ever selected in the first round of the NFL Draft in 1973 - he was chosen 23rd overall. He went on to play 14 seasons for Oakland and Los Angeles, racking up seven Pro Bowl appearances.

Guy popularized the term "hang time" in reference to his sky-high punts. He posted a career 42.5 average. Of his 1,049 punts, not one was ever returned for a touchdown.

Also, Guy is a member of several exclusive clubs: the NFL 75th anniversary all-time team, the Super Bowl silver anniversary team and the all-time NFL team.

He also has been inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.

There's just one more hall of fame left.

But Guy's detractors have been reluctant to vote for him because of his position as a special teams player. There is just one pure kicker (Jan Stenerud) in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But the times might be changing. In 2006, reliever Bruce Sutter was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame after waiting 13 years.

"Punters and relief pitchers don't get the recognition of how important that position is," Guy said.

Guy said he's been getting more media requests lately. And he said he feels almost as excited this year as he did in 1992, the first time he became a finalist.

Of course, he's trying not to get his hopes up in case the voters deny him once again.

"I'm just trying," he said, "to keep it in perspective."


Age: 57

Residence: Thomson

High School: Thomson

College: Southern Mississippi

Pro: Oakland/Los Angeles

Career highlights: First pure punter ever selected in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft (23rd player overall in 1973) ... Played in seven Pro Bowls, the most ever by a punter ... Posted a career 42.5 average. ... Had zero punts returned for a touchdown. ... In the 1977 Pro Bowl, one of his punts hit the scoreboard hanging from the Louisiana Superdome roof.

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justputtin 02/03/07 - 07:40 am
I can't think of a more

I can't think of a more deserving candidate. Sure hope he gets in!

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