It’s a sad day for the Las Vegas Raiders organization. Legendary punter and the only punter in the Hall of Fame, Ray Guy, passed away Thursday morning at the age of 72, his alma mater the University of Southern Mississippi announced. According to Chris Vannini of The Athletic, Guy had been suffering from a “lengthy illness.”
Guy grew up in Thomson, Georgia where his unique athleticism was first on display. He was a four-sport athlete and excelled on the football field as Thomson High’s quarterback, safety, linebacker and tailback, in addition to handling all of the team’s kicking duties.
From there, he went on to kick and punt at Southern Miss, where stories that seemed like folklore emerged of him nailing 60-plus-yard field goals and booming 90-yard punts. The Golden Eagle was such a prolific punter that the award for college football’s top player at the position is named after him.
In 1973, the Raiders made Guy the first punter selected in the first round of the NFL Draft with the 23rd pick overall, and he would not disappoint. He enjoyed a 14-year NFL career, making the Pro Bowl seven times, being a first-team All-Pro three times and second-team once, and was a three-time Super Bowl Champion, all with the Silver and Black. He even served as the team’s emergency quarterback during the beginning of his career.
After being named to the 1970s All-Decade Team, the NFL’s 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time Teams, it took far too long but Guy was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014. He had to overcome the voter’s stigma against punters and when he finally did put that gold jacket on, he delivered an iconic quote: “Now, the Hall of Fame has a complete team.”
Current HOF president, Jim Porter, released a statement about the hall’s only punter, highlighting the person Guy was off the field.
“Fittingly, much was written when Ray Guy was enshrined in Canton about how his election as the first true punter created a ‘full roster’ of players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Too often overlooked, however, was the man behind his powerful right leg,” Porter said.
“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. Fans of the NFL thank Ray for choosing to focus on football.”
Guy also sparked what has been a long lineage of Raiders Pro Bowl punters from Shane Lechler to Vegas’ current punter, AJ Cole, and Cole shared his condolences for the franchise legend.
The Raiders also released a statement expressing their condolences.
The Raiders Family is mourning the passing of Ray Guy, a legendary punter who revolutionized special teams during his 14 seasons with the Silver and Black.— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) November 3, 2022
Statement: https://t.co/3AC7WuaNU2 pic.twitter.com/9SGpOoEIVd
On behalf of the Silver and Black Pride community, I’d like to send our condolences to the Guy family. May he rest in peace.