Hall of Fame punter, Raiders legend dies at 72

Raiders legend Ray Guy, considered one of the greatest punters in NFL history, died on Thursday at the age of 72 after a lengthy illness, his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi announced. 

Guy played 14 seasons in the NFL, all with the Raiders, who made him a first-round pick in the 1973 draft.

“Ray Guy was a football player who punted,” the late John Madden said in 2014 before he presented Guy for induction into the Hall of Fame.

Guy was known for his hang time on punts and was named to seven Pro Bowls, was a six-time first-team All-Pro and was a part of three Super Bowl teams with the Raiders. He was also named to the 1970s All-Decade team and the NFL’s 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time teams.

Madden said the first time he watched Guy punt in practice for the Raiders, he knew the team had something special.

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“He punted the longest, highest footballs that I had ever seen,” Madden said then.

His kicks went so high that one that hit the Superdome scoreboard 90 feet above the field in a Pro Bowl helped put “hang time” into the football vernacular. His ability to pin the opponent deep with either high kicks or well-positioned ones was a key part of the success for the great Raiders teams of the 1970s and 80s.

“It was something that was given to me. I don’t know how,” he said. “I’m really blessed in that category. It’s something I really appreciate and I advanced it and I made it into something great.”

A native of Thomson, Georgia, William Ray Guy is also a member of the College Football Football Hall of Fame and the National High School Sports Hall of Fame.

He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014 and was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004 for his All-American career at Southern Miss. 

At Southern Mississippi, Guy also played defensive back. He still shares the school single-season record for most interceptions with eight in 1972 and his 61-yard field goal at Utah State set an NCAA record at the time.

In 2015, Southern Miss renamed the street outside The Duff Athletic Center on its campus “Ray Guy Way.”

Guy ended his NFL career in 1986 with a streak of 619 punts without having one blocked. But it took nearly three decades for him to be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“That kind of bothered me because they were saying that’s not a position, it doesn’t take an athlete to do that, it’s not important,” Guy said before his Hall of Fame induction in 2014.

“That’s what really got under my skin. It wasn’t so much whether I did or didn’t. I wish somebody had. It was just knowing that they didn’t care.

“That’s what kind of frosted me a little bit.”

Guy’s No. 44 is retired by Southern Miss and the Ray Guy Award is given annually to the best punter in college football. 

This post appeared first on USA TODAY