Ray Guy died on November 3 at a hospice centre in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. He was a star at the University of Southern Mississippi and went on to play for the Oakland Raiders. He was the first punter inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was 72.
Southern Miss, where Mr Guy was a star before becoming the first punter ever taken in the first round of the NFL draught, announced his death but did not say what caused it.
The Raiders picked Mr Guy with the 23rd pick overall in 1973. When he left the team in 1987, he had not had a punt blocked in 619 tries. But he took almost 30 years to get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was the first player to get in because of his punting alone.
He was a finalist for the Hall of Fame seven times starting in 1992 but was never voted in. There were other times when he didn’t even get that far.
Before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014, Mr Guy said, “That kind of bothered me because they were saying that’s not a position, it doesn’t take an athlete to do that, and it’s not important.” “That was what bothered me. It didn’t matter much if I did or not. I wish somebody had. The fact that they didn’t care was enough.
“That’s what kind of frosted me a little bit.”
In many ways, Mr Guy changed his position.
One of his kicks went so high that it hit the scoreboard 90 feet above the field in the Superdome during a Pro Bowl. This helped coin the term “hang time” in football. A big part of the success of the great Raiders teams of the 1970s and 1980s was that he could pin the opponent deep with high kicks or well-placed ones.
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“It was something someone gave me. I don’t know how,” he said. “I’m blessed in that category. I like it, and I’ve improved it and turned it into something great.”
He also won the Super Bowl three times and was chosen for the Pro Bowl seven times.
John Madden, who used to coach the Raiders and is now a sports commentator, once said that the first time he saw Mr Guy punt for the Raiders in practice, he knew the team had something special.
Madden said at the time, “He kicked the longest and highest balls I’d ever seen.”
William Ray Guy was born in Swainsboro, Ga., on Dec. 22, 1949, and grew up in Thomson, Ga.
At Southern Mississippi, he also played defensive back. In 1972, he had eight interceptions, which is still a school record. In addition, his 61-yard field goal at Utah State set an NCAA record at the time.
Because of back pain, Mr Guy gave up football.
Compared to today’s punters’ stats, his don’t look all that impressive. His career average of 42.4 yards per kick ranks 61st all-time, and his net average of 32.2 yards isn’t even in the top 100. This is because the NFL didn’t keep track of this statistic for his first three seasons.
Mr Guy was also in the National High School Sports Hall of Fame and the College Football Football Hall of Fame.
In 2011, he and his wife, Beverly, filed for bankruptcy. He had to sell his Super Bowl rings to pay off their debts.
He told the newspaper, “Sometimes, things just happen.” “All you can do is just deal with it. I did some things I shouldn’t have and made some bad choices. There’s nothing bad. Just buying this and that and spending more than I should. I don’t care about material things anymore. I’m doing well, living within my means, and trying my best.”
He and his wife got a divorce. He had two children, but a complete list of those who lived was unavailable immediately.
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