Finally, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has a punter among its membership.
Now, with Ray Guy earning induction on Saturday night as one of the Hall’s Senior Committee nominees, the longer-term question is when another punter gains the sort of traction necessary to make it to Canton.
It’s somewhat challenging to predict how the Hall voters vote in any given year, but another placekicker making the Hall wouldn’t be a major surprise, what with Morten Andersen being a modern-era finalist this year and Adam Vinatieri figuring to draw some interest when he becomes eligible. However, the Hall has just one full-time kicker in its ranks: Jan Stenerud, who was inducted in 1991.
It has always been tough for specialists to become Hall finalists, let alone get inducted. And supporters of Guy surely know, it’s been a real uphill battle for punters. Of the 126 modern-era candidates considered by the Hall in 2013, only punter made the cut: Sean Landeta, who was eliminated during the first cutdown to 25 candidates.
Of current punters, the Texans’ Shane Lechler would seem to have the best résumé. Like Guy, Lechler drew acclaim for his punting with the Raiders, earning NFL All-Decade honors in the 2000s and making seven Pro Bowls with Oakland.
On Saturday night, Guy told reporters his election sends a positive message to other specialists plying their trade in the often thankless field of special teams.
“It’s going to give the younger generation — the punters and the placekickers and the snappers and all that — it’s given them hope now that there’s a place for us and now it’s more recognized,” Guy said, according to the Hartford Courant.
It’s unlikely that Guy’s induction will open the Hall floodgates for punters. But it may invite discussion of what it will take for a second punter to make the Hall, and that’s a good thing.