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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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  • lefty 12

    as much as i can’t stand the guy-I have to agree with you Pete.how about,what was it,27of 29 the week before.the thing is he is a student of the game,always studing,like Gannon was.that’s why he’s sooo good.

  • lefty 12

    plus his coach tells him what def. the opp. in-he has that on tape.

  • http://insidebayarea.com Raiderkoolaid

    Second best maybe, but I think Payton is better. He just isn’t on as good a team.

  • mr. raider

    The new TUCK Rule they cant stop him

  • ToozFan

    That Brady FUMBLE was basically the same play as the SNOW JOB, except guess what? It was ruled a fumble…

  • mr. raider

    I hope the NYG can keep the pressure on Brady No ring for Moss GO GIANTS

  • http://raiders.com RaiderTW

    Tuck rules.

  • mr. raider

    Sorry tooze but bradys arm wasnt coming forward

  • Florida Pete

    it wasn’t back then either…

  • ToozFan

    Yeah whatever, the Tuck is ancient history…
    It’s nice to see what some serious d-line pressure can do.
    Go Giants!
    Cheers everybody

  • http://insidebayarea.com Unknown

    Go Oakland

  • http://insidebayarea.com Unknown

    Good grief

    Where is everybody. Oh I have an idea.

  • http://insidebayarea.com Unknown

    You guys need to pay attention to the Raiders game like the Superbowl. But that probably makes to much sense to 95% of you regular bloggers

  • snake

    Yea baby, no perfection there yes!!!!!
    fk u moss and brady
    WOOOOOOHHHHOOOOOOOO

  • lefty 12

    yes!Pats lose,scumbag doesn’t get a ring,and btw the Giants play the same out of date yesteryear def style the Raiders play.

  • snake

    yup lefty, and they killed the pats except for 1 drive
    EAT THAT MOSS

  • Florida Pete

    no mas… no moss… no super bowl…

    no ring…

    this is the end of this freaking dynasty…

    good riddance…

  • snake

    looks like plexico called the score…loved it last week on bspn radio brady talking smack about no way there held to 14 let aloone losing 17 14,,,,,,,sweeeeeet.

  • Florida Pete

    yeah he did…

  • snake

    anyone catch lincoln kennedy on bspn radio last week, pretty easy to tell he hates em still for the bs clutch rule…..he said several times that him biekert, brady and charles woodson are standing there and brady said…why they reviewing it, IT WAS A FUMBLE. the league sucks, and the giants proved it today ….fk u randy

  • THETOWN

    I LOOOOOVVVEEEE IIIIITTTTTTT!The hoody is such a poor sport. Your welcome to everybody who took my advise and put the money heavy on the G-Men. God bless Eli!

  • snake

    ELI PLAYED HIS A** OFF, congrats manning family… the true class qbs of the nfl

  • THETOWN

    You said it Snake. The Mannings truly are the first family of the NFL. Moss = LOSER. Plain and simple.

  • Raider Dave

    YEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH baby, yeah that belipunk sure is a class act aint he? I guess cheaters never do win lmao!

  • Dan

    Lefty – Brady is no Manning (eli or peyton). Tell me, how did best QB in football do last 3 years in post season? Give him credit for having a good cheating coach, BS officiating and strong special teams play. As for Hall of Fame, Lynn Swann is in HOF. Was he best receiver of his generation?

  • THETOWN

    18&No. Poetic justice for those cheats.

  • brooke joseph

    I’m so so glad that the SCUM-BAG Randy Moss didn’t win the Super Bowl.SCUMBAGS like him shouldn’t ever win a Super Bowl.There is a God.

  • lefty 12

    Dan-I can’t stand the guy.look at my posts.but he will get in the HOF.that’s all i said.i never said he was the best.I’d take Payton over Brady.but he will be in the HOF=East coast,3 SB wins.

  • Johnny Crock

    If your not allowed to cheat, you don’t get to repeat. There is a football god and he hates the Pats.

  • snake

    Randy will NEVER go in the HOF, I heard a interview about him and, it was said all the powers that be will see to it he never gets in, the reason….the way he did the vikes, and the raiders is HIS legacy, and they will block it….at least what was said on radio 2 wks ago

  • http://. Coach on Wheels

    Branch has 3 rings. Plunkett 2.

    Guy is a Raider great but using K balls Shane Lechler has been providing ammo for Guy detractors.

    I agree Kickers and Punters should be in the same ilk as the Seniors committee who get one slot a year. Maybe one slot every two years and they need 80% of the vote.

  • ToozFan

    Did Belicheat learn the last second fade route from Moss, or was he in a hurry to burn all incriminateing evidence…he’s done! suspended or fired, there will be some changes in NE.
    Ha Ha Ha!!!

  • THETOWN

    I cant wait to hear that sack of tirds Sean Salsbeiry eat crow. “Greatest team ever. No way they can lose.” That guy is the ass end of a piece of crap network

  • snake

    all the bs rumors go away and the cheaters lose, damn guys Im smiling again….decent offseason is about to begin

  • snake

    Oh one last thing, where did moss disappear too…again??? Is he not happy and cant catch the ball because of it????????? LMAO, take that u piece of crap

  • snake

    ok good and drunk and happy, happy next year all im out

  • rellik30

    It was A FUMBLE!! Mwahahahhaha… GO RAIDERS!!!

  • Just sell Baby……..

    I tip my hat to the Giant’s Fan’s. The battle was won in the trenches, helmet to helmet! I did pick the Spirit of the American Patriot to winn……..No bad calls ! The Giant’s will walk proudly in the land of Giant’s

    Maybe the Raiders, will be next !!

  • jh

    Went to the Giants blog on the New York Post site and said congrats….They are getting the same from fans of other teams as well…..seems not many like the Patriots

  • Dylan

    Just want to congradgulate Randy on the Super Bowl win,
    Oh wait…..

  • http://MaddenRaider MaddenRaider

    18-1.

  • Mad Road Dog

    THETOWN…right on bro, right on.

  • http://MaddenRaider MaddenRaider

    The truth is, Jh, nobody does like the Patriots, other than New Englanders, the league, and of course the league’s whorehouse of advertisers and “journalists”.

    I demand somebody contact Ron Jaworski immediately, and put him on suicide watch. He can not be well. He predicted New England to win by some ridiculous score today, and was visibly upset when one of the other hosts dared to predict the Giants might muster up a field goal in today’s game. Remember to not be judgmental with Jaws. Be very gentle and supportive, and remove all toxic products from his immediate vicinity, along with any dangerous devices such as guns, knives, toe nail clippers, etc.

    Someone should probably keep an eye on Ditka, too. But not for the same reason; Just to make sure he doesn’t over celebrate and wind up in jail.

  • http://MaddenRaider MaddenRaider

    I can’t wait to hear the spin machine on tomorrow’s radio shows.

    Anyone notice: No congrats from Belichick in his post game interview? Not that there’s a law or anything, but most losing championship coaches in the big 3 sports congratulate their opponents. It’s American. Belichick passed. He also Buddy Ryan’d out of the stadium when time was still on the clock. All class, that guy…

    And, the implosion is just beginning. Congress is investigating the league destroying evidence of New England’s videotaping, all the while, new allegations of cheating are currently emerging.

    I don’t know what to say, New Englanders. Go Celtics?

  • stretch

    AWESOME!!!!! F the pats. this was the best day of my life. i gat to whitness the biggest upset ever. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. did you see bill Bs face after….and tommy boys too. i love it.

  • 0tt0

    if your going to use the criteria stated in the article for voting for guy then how would you ever get say an OG or C……guy accounted for more yards in terms of field position and completely altered the game…do you think teams selected different plays than they would have liked if they werent backed up to their goal line….its a shame guy isnt there

  • ENGLANDRAIDER

    Thanks Jerry, great stuff in this turbulent Raider time. I saw that ’73 game and Guy was unreal as usual. All those you mentioned should be in the Hall of Fame but especially Snake Stabler. They always seemed to win in the last few seconds around that time and I never had more fun watching football than seeing laid-back Stabler save it again.
    That list also shows what a great eye for talent Al Davis always had. There ought to be some way of combining Al’s talents with a competent coach who can run the team effectively. The Raiders need to get on the ball before nobody shows up to watch-just kidding.
    GO RAIDERS!

  • TuckRule

    For Ray Guy in the Hall of Fame, I think he deserves to be in, and I understand why hes not. And I agree with you when you say the system is flawed. Every year is has to be at least 4 players going in, but no more than 7? Why? If players are worthy to be there, let them in. Who cares if its 11 one year and 2 another. Baseball does it, and it doesnt make the ceremony any less special. I guess they dont want to have to hear a dozen speeches in one day, or feel its not necessary to set up an entire ceremony for just one inductee. They should only compare players to other players in their position, and of their era and before. And great players should have to wait because there is a limit, and they want to get players in from other positons.

  • Rosa

    “Get a Grip, Raider Fans”. It is just a game. It cannot feed your family, or, pay your rent. The fact is, whether New England won (Oops, did the Raiders even make the playoff), or, New York, won the point is: The East Coast won!!! From a woman’s perspective (is this word to big?)whomever is the best team at the time wins. I salute, Manning and Brady for making football exciting, again. “Raiders, who?”

  • ex fan..

    I think Ray Guy belongs in the Hall, he changed the game and by far was the greatest punter around. I totally disagree that Plunkett and Stabler belong. When you make a list of the greatest QB’s of their generations you don’t put their names at the top. Yes they played great for the Raiders but I can’t say they were “hall worthy.” Whereas Ray Guy, yes he truly is worthy of being there. Plunkett bounced around before he found a home, Stabler had good years with the Raiders but he wasn’t the best QB of his generation. Get on the Ray Guy bandwagon and get him in….as for the others I just don’t feel the same.