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Hall of a dilemma

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, February 2nd, 2008 at 4:58 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Here is my problem with electing Ray Guy to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

How can you vote to enshrine to send arguably the greatest punter of all-time to Canton, Ohio when Ken Stabler isn’t there?

Or Cliff Branch.

Or Lester Hayes.

Or Jim Plunkett.

See where I’m going with this?

It’s not that punters aren’t football players. They are, or they wouldn’t be in uniform every Sunday. It’s just that the way the voting is set up, it makes it virtually impossible to vote for a punter when position players are backlogged and waiting to get in.

You don’t have to sell me on Guy’s skills as a punter. Back in the early 1970s, my dad got the opportunity to buy two Raiders season tickets when they were tough to get. On Sept. 23, 1973, with the A’s in the postseason, the Raiders played at Cal against the Miami Dolphins, who entered with an 18-game winning streak and were coming off an unbeaten season.

The Raiders won 12-7 on four George Blanda field goals, but what I remember most of all was sitting near the top rim of Memorial Stadium and seeing punts higher than eye level.

I don’t remember what Guy’s stats were that day and it doesn’t much matter. Stats are misleading where Guy is concerned anyway. The Raiders were an elite team, so it’s not as if Guy was always punting from deep in his own territory. That his career average was 42.4 is remarkable considering the quality of teams he played on.

Colleague Bill Soliday, who saw every game Guy ever played, is famous for breaking out the stopwatch and clocking hang time. Guy still has the most hang-time of anyone he has ever clocked _ 5.3 seconds.

I talked to the late Hank Stram once for a story on Guy and while he was complimentary, he made it clear he thought his own punter, Kansas City’s Jerrell Wilson, was equal or superior.

Soliday tells me they were close, but Guy was better. I defer to Bill on all punting issues.

But let’s face it, as good as Guy was, the Raiders weren’t a great team because of their punter. To say he won them two games a year is probably excessive.

Take Guy out of the picture and Stabler goes a few yards more to pull out the game. What Guy did that day against Miami at Cal was light years behind I saw Stabler do the following season in the “Sea of Hands” game against the Dolphins in the playoffs.

(Best choice I ever made. Going into the playoffs, my dad told me I could pick which playoff game to attend, and my sister would get the other one. I took Miami, of course, because the Dolphins were the defending champions and reasoning that if the Raiders lost, I’d go to one game and she wouldn’t get any. As it turned out, I went to one of the best playoff games ever and she watched the Raiders get slammed by the Steelers the following week).

Davis made one of his most brilliant draft picks when he took Guy in the first round of the 1972 draft, because the Raiders were so loaded with talent in those days a punter was just about all they needed.

But if you asked John Madden before most any game, “You can have Stabler or Guy,” or, “Art Shell or Guy,” or “Branch or Guy,” and you know what his answer would have been.

As much as I like Stabler, Davis does more stumping for Jim Plunkett, who won two Super Bowls as opposed to one for Stabler.

The selection process simply makes it impossible to reconcile putting a punter in over either Stabler or Plunkett.

Kicker Jan Stenerud made the Hall of Fame, but it’s going to be difficult for any other specialist to sneak in. What the Hall needs is a separate process for selecting a specialist. Maybe you don’t do it every year, to keep it as exclusive as possible. Or you pick no more than one and make the mandatory percentage so high that in some years there aren’t any.

As painful as it is for Raiders fans, the specialists wing ought to have an endless loop of Adam Vinatieri’s 45-yard field goal field goal in a snowstorm.

They’ve got areas in the Hall of Fame for announcers, and, God forbid, sports writers. And a punter can’t make it?

It isn’t that Guy isn’t worthy. It’s that the system is flawed.

More Hall of Fame snap judgements:

– It’s only going to get tougher for Guy in coming years. Next year alone, Rod Woodson and Bruce Smith are virtually slam-dunk selections, and it’s hard to imagine Cris Carter not getting in.

– If Carter doesn’t make it on the first ballot, I’d be surprised if Tim Brown did when his turn comes up. There’s a feeling out there that Brown was like a high scoring guard on a bad basketball team. Somebody is going to score points, and going for 25 in a one-sided loss doesn’t make you an all-time great.

My own feeling? Brown’s early success as a return specialist will help him and he’ll be in the conversation. But if Branch isn’t in, I have hard time seeing Brown in Canton.

– Don’t even get me started on Lynn Swann, who wasn’t in Branch’s league but made it courtesy of NFL Films and his juggling mid-field Super Bowl catch against Dallas.

But it is exactly that sort of play which Brown doesn’t have on his resume _ a signature moment or game which separated him from everyone else. I’ve heard the argument from a selector or two that he is a package of statistics who never did anything truly extraordinary.

– Woodson was already going to be a Hall of Famer before he ever got to Oakland, but I’ve got no problem with featuring him in the media guide as a Raider in the Hall of Fame because he might have been the second-most important player behind Rich Gannon to the club’s last AFC championship.

Woodson’s 97-yard interception return against Denver on Gannon’s near-perfect Monday night turned the entire season around.

– Leave it to Woodson, to one of the classier guys you’ll ever meet, to add a dose of perspective to the life-and-death NFL Network coverage of the Hall selection. It’s as if those who didn’t make it were scarred forever.

“As a player, you have to take this with a grain of salt,” Woodson said. “There are worse things than not making the Hall of Fame. At the end of the day, if you have your health and your family, that’s all that matters.”

– If former Vikings guard Randall McDaniel is still hanging around with 12 Pro Bowl selections, and Miami’s Bob Kuchenberg is still waiting, don’t look for Steve Wisniewski to get much run when eligible.

As selectors are fond of saying, Wiz would fall into the category of the “Hall of Very Good,” but not necessarily the Hall of Fame.

On a Roll

Brian Roll takes over as the Raiders strength and conditioning coach for Jeff Fish, who accepted a job with the Atlanta Falcons.

His resume looks impressive enough, but can he throw a pass? Fish was threw one of the nicest balls on the team and often worked with defensive backs during training camp drills.

The Chad campaign

Disgruntled wide receiver Chad Johnson, according to Pro Football Talk.com, made a pitch on Jim Rome’s ESPN television show to be dealt to the Raiders.

Heck of a talent, but do the Raiders want to go down this road so soon after Randy Moss?

Johnson is under contract through 2010 and is scheduled to make $3 million this season, $4.5 million in 2008, $6 million through 2009 and $5 million in 2010.

Is it just me, or can’t you just see Johnson looking for bigger money before that deal is up?

Haggling with Davis in public over money is never a good idea.

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  • Raider Raul #53

    If a player of “Ocho-Cinco” caliber openly WANTS to come to the Raiders, well, then we need to take advantage of that. As much crap as people talk about how “nobody wants to go to Oakland”, this once again validates the LURE & MYSTIQUE of playing in & for the Silver & Black. Getting Chad Johnson now would be like if we got Moss 3 years EARLIER in his career. Besides, Oakland could use his undenyable production, even at the expense of his antics. He could make the Blackhole even more popular than it already is.

    Otherwise, let’s trade with Detroit for Williams and Rogers.

  • M

    I’m convinced. If in Johnson’s own words he wants to play here, well then by all means take him. His salary is not outrageous and he does not quit on his teammates.

  • Once upon a time in the west

    RaiderTW,
    Thanks for the link if you watch the play Bradys left hand touches the ball a fraction of a second before Woodson hits him.At that instant the foward pass is over and he is now in possesion of a live ball. Like woodson said”GAME OVER”

  • http://none Bob Marley

    saintkaufman..post 99

    Yeah, apparently there is some sort of exhibition game going on today.

  • Andrews mom

    Merry stuporbowlday to one and all, even Al haters.

  • http://none Super Bowl MVP Mr. Randy Moss

    Thanks chumps.

  • M

    Is it just me or do all Raider fans have a tightening in the gut whenever they hear the words, “the play is under review.”

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Much like John S said before..

    I don´t think I have ever wanted a team, other than the Raiders, to beat another one as much as a I want the Giants to win today.

  • Once upon a time in the west

    I think I will watch the puppy bowl on animal planet.I dont think thier owners condemn cheating.

  • Once upon a time in the west

    OOPs condone cheating.

  • saintkaufman

    Thanks Bob Marley, just heard about it this morning.
    By the way, really like your studio work!

  • drray

    Ray Guy had a cool name too

  • saintkaufman

    A couple of recent WR moves and what they went for:

    Branch – 1st
    Chambers – 2nd
    Walker – 2nd
    Welker – 2nd and 7th
    D Jackson – 4th
    Moss – 4th

    I’d like to get Chad Johnson for the same as Welker if possible.

  • Once upon a time in the west

    Could Spy Gate be the Patriots Barret Robbins?

  • M

    Wonder if Goodell, with all the heat coming his way has let the Referee know that it is okay to not swallow his whistle when the Pewks have the ball.

  • Mad Road Dog

    M…Stabler has to be one of the favorites of any Raider fan, you always knew that given enough time he could get it done. I love the way he threw the ball. Stabler made that throw as he was falling down and that catch by CD with the Phins hanging all over him has to one of the grestest catches of all time

    Jh…it only worked because she was one of the biggest joksters around and had a huge rep for pulling gags. Thank god most of them were on her brothers, she was a very clever gal. Don’t miss her though, she was not a Raider fan.

  • http://insidebayarea.com Charger Boy

    Where is that raidergirll

  • http://none Bob Marley

    M

    I would think, because of this whole deal, that now we can at least rest assured that in this game the refs won´t have any effect on the outcome.

    And to be honest, if they lose today, I´m past it.

  • Huff24

    If people don’t want to put punters into the HOF, then they should stop paying them altogether because it doesn’t make sense putting them in a uniform and making them feel like a football player. They might as well let these guys come out and kick because they want to and let them dress up in jeans and a shirt because they aren’t worth a damn. Even Peyton Manning said his kicker at the time (Vanderjagt) was not a football player. I wonder how many games Vanderjagt won for Manning when they needed that last minute victory and Manning couldn’t pull off the Touchdown?

    If anything…all kickers and punters should go on strike until the HOF can start recognizing them as people who did their best for their teams. It doesn’t matter how they did it…it matters that they did it and it should be considered discrimination for not letting them have a piece of the pie. Can you imagine what life must be like in the locker room for some of these guys? 51 men telling the punter and kicker that they can’t hang out because they are irrelevant and not important?

  • Florida Pete

    um…

    are there any cheerleaders in the hall of fame???

    just asking…

  • Huff24

    They should take punters and kickers out of the game for 1 year and continue to pay them just to find out how much the teams appreciate them. Just wait until the offenses end up going 4 downs and out on their own 10 yard line. The other team is only going to have 10 yards to get a TD. Talk about the pressure being turned on. Then you can tell those players that they’re not that good because its obvious they need a punter or a kicker to save them from their own mistakes.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Damm Huff24 you are on-fire….

    Were you a Kicker at some point?..

  • http://none Bob Marley

    and did they tell you not to hang out with your teammates?..

  • Once upon a time in the west

    Huff24, Mike Vanderjagt had 11 game winning field goals in his career.

  • http://MaddenRaider MaddenRaider

    Ron Jaworski has just picked the Patriots to win 70-0. He was also visibly upset when Steve Young insisted the Giants would score a field goal.

    Developing…

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Give me your pick and score Madden, huff24..everyone

  • I dress in black

    What do we have to give up to get #85? I don’t see the Bungles giving him up for a 4th round pick….

  • M

    Huff, ever read Mark Twain’s short story, ‘An Excerpt From Captain Stromfield’s Visit to Heaven’? Think you might like it.

  • http://MaddenRaider MaddenRaider

    Ray Guy’s snub is no doubt and arrow shot at Davis. That’s an easy one for them, because they can always play that “come on, he’s a punter”, card.

    Plunkett is who the Raider people ought to really be campaigning for, and it wouldn’t kill them to make his ethnicity an issue. This is one of the few Mexican Americans to ever play in the league, and he’s accomplished more than most of any race. He was also the first minority quarterback to win a Super Bowl (and, he won 2 before another minority qb would win one), with Doug Williams being the first black quarterback to do it, years later.

    The Raiders should really put the heat on the HOF voters to put Plunk in. Make them look like a bunch of racist gringos if they don’t.

  • http://MaddenRaider MaddenRaider

    Marley, My pick:

    The NFL, it’s game officials, it’s advertising machine, it’s press, and the New England Patriots – 35

    New York Giants – 20

  • Florida Pete

    uh… i don’t know about making an appeal based on race…

  • M

    score one, Tuck boy hurt on second play, Giants 27-10
    score two, Eli regresses, mayhem ensues, P’s 52-3
    too many variables.

  • CopenhagenFan

    Plunkett is not Mexican? He’s a native American isn’t he?

  • Florida Pete

    New England Patricias – 31

    New York Giants – 20

  • Huff24

    Let me make this clear…

    If Jerry Rice NEVER existed. Tim Brown would be #1 on the stats listings. Do you guys realize how powerful that is? Rice had nothing but consistency built around him when he came into the league. You can certainly credit Rice for having the greatest work ethic over anybody but Rice had Montana and Young and both those QB’s are considered HOF people. Don’t forget about Jeff Garcia because he was pretty good with the Niners as well and T.O. was on the opposite side. The 49ers were STACKED during the years he was there and if it wasn’t for the Cowboys in the early 90′s…the Niners would have been the ones winning those Superbowls.

    Tim Brown never had that luxery. There have been MANY bad teams with great receivers and those great receivers don’t have the kind of stats that Tim Brown has. He was Mr. Reliable on a team that consisted of Jay Shroeder, Billy Joe Hobert, Vince Evans, Donald Hollis, Jeff George, Todd Marinovich and many more crappy QB’s that I can’t think of right now. Hostetler was the best QB Brown had ever had and he wasn’t something to write home about. He was good but not great.

    Brown finally got a great QB when he got Rich Gannon and there are alot of people who still don’t consider Gannon great for the things he did when with the Raiders. Then there was Kerry Collins.

    Now…Brown even had his lapses at times. Sometimes Brown would drop some of the easiest passes and I think that had to do with his lack of focus due to frustrations or maybe because the ball was thrown to him so often that you just can’t be perfect. All I know is…I have been a Raiders fan since 1989. I grew up with Tim Brown and I remember Brown being the offense. He was literally all there was to look forward to watching in regards to the skill position. He had guys like James Jett and Raghib (Rocket) Ismail on the other side of him. WOW. Don’t stop the presses.

    1 player can only do so much.

  • Florida Pete

    Born to Mexican American parents with an Irish-German grandfather on his paternal side .[1], Plunkett’s father was a news vendor afflicted with progressive blindness, who had to support his blind wife along with their three children.

    from Wiki

  • Huff24

    Bob Marley – Thats funny. I couldn’t kick a ball if my life depended on it besides…I’m a “real” football player, not a kicker. lol ;) j/k.

  • http://raiders.com RaiderTW

    Plunkett is Mexican. So is Romo.

  • Huff24

    The sad part is…most kickers and punters are bigger than me. They’d probably kick my butt. lol.

  • http://none Bob Marley

    Huff24…lol.

    Give Jano a six pack, a couple of vodka shots and he´ll probably kick plenty of ”real” player butt´s.

  • Huff24

    MaddenRaider – Playing the race card would be interesting…especially when the HOF voters put Tony Gonzales in as soon as he is eligible. I can’t wait until they say, “See…we’re not racist. We put Tony Gonzales into the HOF.”

  • http://none Bob Marley

    MaddenRaider…I´m gonna agree on this one..

    Pats 38 NYG 16

    That being said…go Giants!

  • Huff24

    Bob Marley – I can’t imagine fighting against a Drunken Polish Janikowski at 6’2 260 lbs. He could literally kick people to death.

  • Huff24

    M – Never read it. I did read Huckelberry Finn and I think I read another story about Finn’s buddie Tom. I can’t remember.

  • Raider76

    I agree with Jerry to a point. Cliff B., Stabler, Hayes, and Plunket are all deserving. Brown is also deserving when he’s up. Ray Guy needs to be there becuase he truly was the best at his position. What about Tom Flores? He has 2 super bowl rings! What the hell I want to see him get in before he dies. This is a damn shame that he’s not in.

  • Huff24

    I never play the score game. Its too unpredictable. I don’t do it with the Raiders, I won’t do it now. Anybody notice the Patriots put it into 2nd gear when teams starting whining about the Patriots running up the score? Belichick said that he expects his offense to score everytime they’re on the field no matter what because that is their job. Well…you’ll notice that they stopped beating people down. Look at the Charger game…I really believe the Patriots did what they needed to do to win the game and nothing more.

    I just have a feeling the Patriots want to break all the records they can and now they can go after the Superbowl scoring record. If the Patriots put it into full gear, I can definately see them running up the score. I’m afraid of what it might look like when its over.

  • Once upon a time in the west

    I Dress In Black,
    If we won the coin toss with ATL our draft pick would have a value of 2,200 points.If we lost our pick would have a value of 1,700 points. The Bengals pick at #9.Their pick has a value of 1,350 points.So if we flip/flopped picks you are saying Chad Johnson has a draft value of.If we had the 3rd pick 850 points,which would = a 1st round#20 pick. Or if we had the 4th pick would = a 2nd round pick #55 It all depends what the Raiders think CJ is worth.
    But with that being said you need 2 willing trade partners.
    I would make the trade myself due to the fact we could get a good DT or offensive lineman not to mention the cap savings.

  • Florida Pete

    Huff…

    are you thinking 72 – 9 ???

  • http://oakglenn Oakglenn

    MaddenRaider- #130 hilarious. you got that right! (except the score. Go NY Giants!!)

  • M

    I wonder why no one ever seems to appreciate Dave Dalby. All worlder Jim Otto stepped aside after ’74 and the Raiders never missed a beat. A quarter century of football and only two centers in all that time.