For the first time, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has enshrined a punter, as Ray Guy received his bust at a ceremony in Canton, Ohio, this evening.
“Man, am I glad to be here tonight,” Guy said as he was inducted. “To be a part of this very special clubhouse called the Pro Football Hall of Fame — and knowing it’s forever — is beyond my wildest dreams.”
Guy thanked the late Raiders Hall of Fame owner Al Davis, “who took a chance on me.” Davis shocked the football world when he spent a first-round pick on Guy in 1973, making him the first punter ever to go in the first round. That pick may have seemed crazy to some, but it paid off: Guy was the NFL’s first-team All-Pro punter in each of his first six NFL seasons, from 1973 to 1978.
Davis’s Raiders were the only NFL team Guy played for, and Guy was regularly among the league’s elite punters statistically. He led the league in yards per punt three times, was second in the league three times and was third in the league twice.
John Madden, Guy’s Hall of Fame coach, noted in Guy’s introduction that punters are football players too, but Guy was long a source of controversy in Hall of Fame debates: Some people don’t think any punter belongs in the Hall of Fame, while others said that if there was going to be a punter in the Hall, Guy didn’t deserve to go first. Guy was repeatedly voted down as a Hall of Fame finalist and only got in this year as a nominee of the Veterans Committee.
But now there’s no longer a debate: Punter Ray Guy is a Hall of Famer.
“It’s been long, long overdue,” Guy said. “But now the Hall of Fame has a complete team.”