Ray Guy, widely regarded as the greatest running back in NFL history, died Thursday morning after a long illness at his alma mater, Southern Miss, declared. He is 72 years old.
Guy, a member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, became the first punter inducted in Canton, Ohio, when he was enshrined in 2014.
“Appropriately, when Ray Guy was enshrined in Canton and elected as the first true punter, much was written about how he made the “entire roster” of players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, what is often overlooked is the man behind his powerful right leg,” Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said In a statement. “Ray was a warm, humble Southern gentleman who represented the game, the Raiders organization and the Hall of Fame with dignity and class at all times.
“A truly gifted athlete, he could have been a star in Major League Baseball or pro basketball. NFL fans thank Ray for choosing to focus on football.”
Guy was the 23rd overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft. An instant star, Guy was named to his first of six consecutive Pro Bowls in his rookie season. He was an All-Pro every season from 1976-78 before earning his seventh Pro Bowl nod in 1980.
An integral part of three Super Bowl championship teams, Guy had 111 punts in the postseason, including a 71-yard boot in the 1980 postseason. Guy’s best game in the NFL may have come in Super Bowl XVIII, when he pulled down a high snap with one hand and made a 40-plus-yarder to save a Washington touchdown. The Raiders won the game 38-9 in one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history.
Guy spent his 14-year career with the Raiders, retiring after the 1986 season. After a 22-year wait, he joined many of his former teammates in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Before joining the Raiders, Guy enjoyed a distinguished career at Southern Mississippi, where he was a punter, place-kicker and safety for the Golden Eagles from 1970-72. His accolades included a 93-yard punt against Ole Miss and a 61-yard field goal in the Blizzard against Utah — an NCAA record at the time. He finished his collegiate career with a school record in career punting average of 44.7 yards per punt.
In addition to his success as a kicker, Guy is a starting safety for the Golden Eagles. He intercepted eight passes in 1972, which is still tied for the single-season school record. He was named a unanimous All-American following his senior season.
The Ray Guy Award was created in 2000 to honor college football’s greatest punter.
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