Ray Guy has always been a mystical figure to me.
He was just different and because of that, he was the perfect bow to the what was, in my mind, the most fascinating, unique collection of professional athletes ever. He completed the 1970s Oakland Raiders.
Thursday, we sadly said goodbye to Guy, the first punter to be a first-round pick and the only true punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Guy, who played for the Raiders for 14 seasons and was part of all three Super Bowl winning teams, was 72 years old.
As a child growing up in the Bay Area in the 70s, I was mesmerized by Guy. He was must-watch TV. And he was a punter.
Yes, he was different.
When I first started watching football, I remember my father telling me to pay attention to Guy because he was so unusual. And my dad wasn’t even a Raiders’ fan. The New Yorker was a huge Giants fan. Still, he was all about Guy.
See, Ray Guy was a weapon. He was a big reason why those Raiders were so special and successful.
He was a true boomer and he flipped the field regularly and he boosted the Raiders’ tenacious defense with his coffin-corner brilliance.
Most vivid memory of Ray Guy: Watching from stands as a teenager at Cal's Memorial Stadium (scheduling conflict with A's). Guy punts six times for 49.0 average, the kicks seemingly higher than top rim of the stadium. Raiders snap Miami 18-game win streak, 12-7. https://t.co/BgX6Gi4OKs— Jerry McDonald (@Jerrymcd) November 3, 2022
The Raiders wouldn’t have been who they were without Guy. It was poetic that the greatest punter ever was apart of those teams. During his prime, Al Davis was a true football genius. He was living proof of the cliche: He was playing chess while others were playing checkers.
People snickered when he drafted Guy in the first round in 1973. But, what Davis was doing was adding the final piece of a near perfect roster. The 1970s Raiders are remembered for their dominance on the field and their wild characters off of it. The uncommon punter who flipped the field fit right in.
Punters, for the most part, are employed because teams can’t play without one. Guy was part of the Raiders because they needed him. He changed the way punters were looked at forever. Every punter is forever with judged against Ray Guy as the measuring stick.
He was a true NFL pioneer and will forever be a Raiders’ legend.