Ray Guy, the only pure punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has died at the age of 72.
The Raiders selected Guy out of Southern Miss in the first round of the 1973 NFL draft, making him the first punter ever drafted in the first round. Guy would go on to spend 14 seasons with the Raiders, and be chosen first-team All-Pro six times.
Guy’s punting was at times so good that it drove opposing coaches crazy: In 1977, Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips suspected Guy of filling footballs with helium to improve his hang time, and so he and Oilers punt returner Billy “White Shoes” Johnson agreed that after a punt return, Johnson would hold onto the football and give it to the Oilers’ equipment manager, who brought it to Rice University to have it analyzed. The subsequent testing cleared Guy of wrongdoing.
Guy was selected to seven Pro Bowls, and during the 1976 game, held at the Superdome in New Orleans, he made one of his most memorable plays: A punt that went so high it hit a video screen 90 feet above the field.
Hall of Fame coach John Madden, who was the Raiders’ head coach when they drafted Guy and for Guy’s first six seasons, said of Guy, “He was one of our most valuable players in all those years with the Raiders.”
Guy is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame, he was chosen to the NFL’s 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, his number was retired by Southern Miss, and the award that goes to the best punter in college football is called the Ray Guy Award.