Gold Jacket Spotlight: With Ray Guy, Hall Of Fame ‘Completed Team’
“During the previous season, Jerry DePoyster had turned punting into an adventure for us. The last thing a coach wants to worry about is having a punt blocked. That year, Jerry led the league with three blocked punts, which meant I led the league in worrying about it,” offered Madden.
Ray was a multisport athlete, an All-American in high school who played safety in addition to punting at Southern Mississippi. The Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros and Atlanta Braves all selected Ray, a standout in baseball.
But football would be his professional future after a collegiate career punctuated by a then-NCAA record 61-yard field goal against Utah State.
“The thing that makes Ray Guy so special isn’t so much his leg. There are a lot of kickers with good legs, good rhythm and good timing. It’s that he’s one of the few kickers who’s a real football player. He was an all-league safety in college. We had him run many plays in practice at wide receiver” Madden said. “We’ve had him play (defensive back) and we’ve even had him play QB at times. He can do all those things. He’s a football player that kicks, not a kicker who plays football. There’s a helluva difference.”
Ray played each of his 14 NFL seasons with the Raiders and netted a career average of 42.4 yards per punt. Only three of his 1,049 punts were blocked, and he amassed a streak of 619 consecutive games without a block that extended from the 1979 season until the end of his playing career in 1986.
Journalist Mike Zampa once wrote: “Guy is just as valuable to the Raiders’ defense and offense. The defenders know they won’t be backed up against their own goal when Ray’s kicking. And the offense doesn’t have to worry about bogging deep down it its own territory. Guy can kick them out of the hole, so why not go long on third-and-five from the 20?”
“Guy punts well when they’re backed up,” Kansas City Chiefs special teams coach Frank Gansz told Football Digest in 1987. “When he’s got a chance to pin them inside the 20-yard line, he does it with a high degree of regularity. Do you think that doesn’t help their defense? How many teams are going to continually drive more than 80 yards again their (Raiders’) defense. Not very many.”
Former Denver Broncos punter Bucky Dilts observed that, “He (Ray) discourages offenses with his punts. They hang up their 4.8 seconds or longer and they climb toward the third deck.”
As an explanation point during the 1977 Pro Bowl, Ray sent a punt high enough to hit the giant televisionscreen hanging from the rafters of the New Orleans Superdome.
Ray believed that to be a successful punter one needed rhythm and concentration.
“It’s like mind over matter,” he said. “It you can keep yourself under control, not lose your cool, you can do anything you want. Once you start thinking about 11 guys coming at you, or 80,000 people booing you, you’re not concentrating – not doing your job. So, I just blot everything out.”
A seven-time Pro Bowl selection and six-time All-Pro selection, Ray was a member of three Super Bowl-winning teams (XI, XV and XVIII) and was included on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s, Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team, 75th NFL Anniversary Team and NFL 100 All-Time Team.
These achievements provided the Hall of Fame team the player they lacked, according to Ray
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