Ray Guy completes HOF team

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Oakland Raiders former punter Ray Guy walks the red carpet prior to the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Fawcett Stadium.
Oakland Raiders former punter Ray Guy walks the red carpet prior to the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Fawcett Stadium.
Oakland Raiders former punter Ray Guy walks the red carpet prior to the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Fawcett Stadium. | USA TODAY Sports

Football is a battle of field position and Ray Guy was the best at pinning opponents deep in their own territory. The University of Southern Mississippi’s very own Ray Guy made history this summer by being the first punter elected into the NFL Hall of Fame.

“It’s been long, long overdue,” Guy said. “But now the Hall of Fame has a complete team.” It was Guy’s eighth time as a finalist for the Hall of Fame.

Guy is considered to be the greatest punter of all-time and reinvented how the position is expected to be played. In honor of Guy’s accomplishments, college football’s best punter is given the Ray Guy Award. Like Guy, the winner must show great leadership on and off the field and contribute to his team wins.

While at Southern Miss, Guy was not just a coffin corner specialist. He handled various duties on the football field and pitched for the Golden Eagles baseball team. He also excelled as a defensive back, recording the second most interceptions in school history. This is not the first time Guy made history as a punter.

He was the first and only punter selected in the first round of the NFL draft. The Oakland Raiders used the 23rd pick of the 1973 draft on Guy. Guy exceeded all expectations during his 14-year NFL career, playing from 1973 to 1986, averaging over 42 yards per punt  for his career.

Guy played in seven Pro Bowls, which is the most for any punter. Guy’s NFL career is highlighted by winning Super Bowl XI, XV and XVIII with the Raiders. Before Guy came into the NFL, hang time – how long the ball is in the air – was not recorded for punts.

Hang time came into play when one of Guy’s punts hit the scoreboard that was hanging from the ceiling of the Superdome. Guy’s punts had so much hang time that the NFL tested the football he used for helium. Guy’s enshrinement speech showed why he is so highly respected.

Not once did he mention his individual achievements, but he honored the people that helped him reach his Hall of Fame status. Now that his playing days are over, Guy uses his Pro Kicker Kicking Academy, which is held every year, to teach the basics and mechanics it takes to kick a football.

“Though I may not have realized it at the time, all those years of playing football, I was setting benchmarks for young athletes to follow,” he said. “I’d like to think I can continue to help others by teaching what I have learned and to inspire them as they begin to dream and to start their journey.” Guy is determined to help young kids reach their dream to kick in the NFL and maybe one day stand on the Hall of Fame stage.