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Hall of Fame induction is bittersweet moment for Ray Guy

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As the first punter ever elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Ray Guy recently reflected on his 14-year career in light of Saturday's induction ceremony.

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

When Ray Guy was drafted by the Raiders in 1973, the safety/punter from Southern Miss didn't know much about the team. In fact, he wasn't really even sure where they played.

"I did not know a lot about the Raiders in general," Guy said in a conference call Monday. "I knew they existed because I knew of the year they came into existence. So, when I got drafted by them, I had really not an idea about them and where they were and all this stuff, so I was a little concerned about that."

Safe to say that concern probably subsided pretty quickly.

Guy, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this Saturday, is regarded by some as the best punter in NFL history after spending 14 seasons in silver and black. Despite the acclaim, it took some help from the Hall of Fame's Senior Committee to get Guy recognized — after failing to be elected as a seven-time finalist, the committee voted him into this year's class.

While the moment will surely be sweet, Guy admits that there is also a sadder side to the moment — remembering all those who won't be there to share it with him. Among those who will be absent are both of his parents, his high school coach, college coach, and, of course, Al Davis.

In fact, Guy admits that if Davis were still alive, it would be him who would introduce him on Saturday. Instead, Guy chose another Hall of Famer -- his former head coach, John Madden.

"I wanted to keep it within the family," he said, "so the next obvious choice would be John....(he) is going to be a great inspiration to me when he’s standing up there. I don’t know what he’s going to say, because nobody knows what he’s going to say, but you know I wanted to keep it through the chain of command."

In the end, it makes perfect sense for Madden to be the one introducing Guy on Saturday in Davis' place, if only because Madden was his head coach when the Raiders shocked the world by selecting Guy with the No. 23 pick in 1973... As strictly a punter.

While Guy admits that the transition from a two-way player to strictly a punter was challenging, it was the extra time he got to spend focusing on kicking that ultimately led him to this amazing honor.

"Normally, back in my era and all that days, pretty much everyone played everything," Guy said. "When I was drafted as a punter, it took me at least two years to get used to doing one thing. But I knew the importance of everything and I knew my job was very important with the Raiders."

And, thankfully for Guy, it was equally important to the senior committee. This induction will cap off a career that netted Guy seven trips to the Pro Bowl, six years as an All-Pro, three Super Bowls, recognition in both the Georgia and the Mississippi Hall of Fame, and, of course, recognition as the first true punter ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.