Only time will tell if Ray Guy has opened the floodgates for more players at his position, but what's important right now is that he's the first pure punter to make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Guy gave his speech at the enshrinement ceremony on Saturday.
Guy said that being part of the Hall of Fame, which is forever, is something that's beyond his wildest dreams. He started by thanking everyone there, including a large group of former punters. He then said there were two people who were no longer with us who needed to be thanked -- his college coach P.W. Underwood and former Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.
Class of 2014
Class of 2014
He said that his two greatest influences in his life were his late parents, and he thanked them too. Guy said he took a look at everything he did from childhood until now, and couldn't determine where he realized that football was what he wanted to, and that making the Hall of Fame was his goal. He said that he could have been a pitcher in MLB, or a player in the NBA. He hadn't even made the decision when he got to college.
But somewhere along the line, he realized he needed to focus on one thing: kicking the football. He wanted to dedicate every single thing he could to perfecting his craft. He said that he'd rather be in the background and not the center of attention, something that obviously fits as a punter. You pay attention to the punter for the first couple seconds of every fourth down and that's about it.
Guy said that, with punters getting into the Hall of Fame, it is now a "complete team." He finished by saying that he's here "for the love of the game."
Guy is the second kicker, after Jan Stenerud, to make it into the Hall. If his induction is a sign of more specialists to come, they could not have found a better player to kickstart the trend. Guy is widely regarded as the best punter to ever play the game. Some laughed at the Raiders taking him with the 23rd overall pick back in 1973, but he went on to appear in seven Pro Bowls and was named a first-team All-Pro six times.
He made the second-team another two times, and was part of all three Super Bowl-winning teams in Raiders history. In his 13-year career, Guy played in 207 consecutive games, averaged 42.4 yards per punt with a 33.8 net yards average, and had 210 punts down inside the 20-yard line. That latter stat doesn't even count his first three seasons, when that stat was not tracked. In other words, he's got all the numbers he needs to back up this nomination. It's a big moment for punters in general.