After seven years finishing as a finalist, former Southern Miss standout Ray Guy will be the first punter in NFL history inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The former Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders punter received 80 percent of the vote from the 46-member selection committee.
Guy changed the concept of punting by implementing the strategy to limit return yardage. He used high hang times rather than focusing solely on distance to allow his coverage team time to get down the field. Arguably the greatest punter of all time, he played for the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders from 1973-1986 and was the first punter drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft as the 23rd pick overall.
“This recognition is for the Raiders fans, my supporters and family that have been behind me and who have helped to get me to this point today,” Guy said before leaving to New York for the Super Bowl earlier this week.
The seven-time Pro Bowl selection played in all 207 games during his 14-year NFL career. He was also a six-time All-Pro selection and played in Super Bowls XI, XV and XVII.
Guy owns the Raiders record for most career punts (1,049) and led the NFL gross punt average three times. Not including his first three seasons in which the stat was not kept officially, he pinned 210 punts inside the 20-yard line. Guy ended his stellar career with 619 consecutive punts without a block.
“Guy was the first punter you could look at and say he won games,” said Joe Horrigan, the historian of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
At Southern Miss, Guy also played defensive back and still owns the university’s single-season record for most interceptions with eight set backs in 1972. His other career records include holding the longest punting average in school history of 44.7 yards and second in career interceptions with 18.
He received noteworthy honors such as being named to the 75th Anniversary NFL All-Time Team at punter, the 1970s All Decades Team, the All-Time NFL Team chosen by the Hall of Fame Committee in 2000 and the AFL-NFL 1960-1984 All-Star Team. Also, the Augusta, Ga. Sports Council named the Ray Guy Award in his honor as a reward to the top punter in college football every year.
“I pity Canton, Ohio, if I do get in. I’m not sure Canton is big enough for all the friends and fans from Mississippi, Georgia and California who want to be a part of that celebration,” Guy said before being inducted into the Hall of Fame. “If I get in, it’s for them. It’s for the Raiders and (Southern Miss). It’s for those who have always stood behind me.”
He will be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 2., in Canton, Ohio. Guy also has been inducted into the Bay Area, College Football, Southern Miss M-Club, Mississippi, Georgia and National High School Sports Hall of Fames.