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Ray Guy has never had a better shot at Hall

Filed for print to run Saturday . . .

The chances of Ray Guy becoming the first punter to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame have never looked better.

“You want to get excited, but you don’t want to show it outside,’’ the former Raiders punter said this week from his office at Hattiesburg, Miss. “I’ve been through it before, but it doesn’t get any easier until you know for sure on Saturday.’’

Guy has been a finalist seven times, but this year was nominated by the nine-member seniors committee, a designation for players who haven’t played for 25 seasons.

Already a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, as well as those at his college in Southern Mississippi and the state sports Hall of Fames in Mississippi and Georgia, Guy would be the first pure punter elected.

He will still need 80 percent of the 46-member electorate (37 votes), but as a senior nominee, Guy and fellow senior candidate Claude Humphrey will be voted upon on a yes or no basis.

In previous years, Guy was considered along with other candidates with voters deciding which four or five to include. It put him in competition with fulltime players and left him short of the necessary 80 percent.

Coaches such as John Madden, Hank Stram and George Allen were all senior inductees, unable to get 80 percent of the vote when matched against players.

Seven of the last eight senior candidates have been enshrined, and 38 of 51 overall since the senior designation was added in 1972. According to Rick Gosselin, a columinist for the Dallas Morning News and a member of the senior committee, it increases Guy’s odds of getting good news.

“I like his chances because he’s a senior, thus he’s a stand-alone candidate not in competition with five modern-era candidates,’’ Gosselin said in an e-mail. “It’s either yea or nay. He’s worthy or else we wouldn’t have brought him out of the senior committee. We vet these guys pretty good.’’

Said Jim Trotter, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated and one of the 46 voters: “I feel this is the year Ray finally gets in. In the past he’s fought the bias that some voters have against specialists, but as a senior his chances increase significantly because he would not take an available spot from a position player.’’

Guy’s legend is superior to his statistics, which by modern standards are ordinary for a punter.

The Raiders made Guy the first punter to be selected in the first round of the draft in 1972. Guy said he never heard the term “hang time’’ until Madden used it to describe his booming kicks, which occasionally took more than five seconds to return to earth.

Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips once swiped a game ball after facing the Raiders and sent it to Rice University to have it tested for helium.

A gifted athlete, Guy’s 18 interceptions as a safety is ranks second in Southern Miss history and he was drafted three times as a pitching prospect by the Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves and Cincinnati Reds. He is still on campus as the school’s director of community relations for the Southern Miss alumni association.

However, Guy’s career average for gross punting is 42.4 yards per kick, tied for 89th all-time. His season best of 45.3 yards in 1973 is tied for 168th.

Former Raiders punter Shane Lechler, by contrast, is has the highest average in NFL history (47.6) and a single-season best of 51.1 in 2009.

Mitigating circumstances in Guy’s case include playing for a strong Raiders team where he wasn’t called on as often to punt from deep in his own territory, instead angling for the sideline to get better field position.

From the years 1976-86, Guy had 210 punts inside the 20-yard line _ more than twice the amount of any other punter.

At his Hall induction in 2009, Madden said in his acceptance speech he believed the busts for each player talked to each other at night. If that’s the case, Guy’s presence would give Jan Stenerud some company.

Stenerud, elected to the Hall in 1991, is the only pure kicker in the Hall of Fame. His career field goal percentage of 67.8 is low by today’s standards, but he was one of the first dominant soccer-style kickers and helped change the way teams looked at scouting place kickers.

While admittedly partial to former teammate Jerrel Wilson, the Chiefs punter and contemporary of Guy, Stenerud said, “I expect Ray to get in. I think punting is important. In terms of field position he was tremendous and no punter was as universally known as Ray.’’

CBS analyst Steve Tasker, a 13-year veteran who was so good at kick coverage and blocking kicks Buffalo teammates such as Jim Kelly and Bruce Smith lobbied for his inclusion of Hall of Fame, said Guy’s name recognition counts for something.

“He’s the guy that set the bar,’’ Tasker said. “You talk to most people who watch the NFL, the only punter they can name, other than their own punter, is Ray. There’s something to be said for that.’’

Former Rams, Eagles and Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil, hired as the NFL’s first special teams coach in 1969 by George Allen, is perplexed that there is no punter in the Hall.

“In think the general fan underestimates the value of field position,’’ Vermeil said. “Why would you exclude a punter if he was the best in his position in the history of the NFL?’’

Former Raiders coach Tom Flores considers Guy as worthy as any of the position players that helped him win two Super Bowls. Lost amid Marcus Allen’s 74-yard touchdown run and Jack Squirek’s interception for a touchdown in a 38-9 win over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII was a game-altering play by Guy with his back to the end zone.

“The ball was snapped 10 feet high, Ray somehow goes up and gets it, and gets off a 42-yard punt,’’ Flores said. “It could have changed the entire game. Nobody even talked about it.’’

Guy isn’t hoping to be a pioneer as much as he’s looking to give the Hall of Fame something it lacks.

“I’d love to be the first, but whether I am or I’m not it’s time to fill every position on a football team,’’ Guy said. “I’ve yet to see the great team that didn’t have a great punter.’’

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • 1960AutumnWind

    You don’t get it. Hawks are genius and Flynn a smart move because they just won the superbowl. However Raiders and Flynn are a dumb move because well they are the Raiders.

  • marks hair

    New post

  • IAmAlwaysWrong

    job openings in Oakland*** assistant strength and conditioning coach ; assistant special teams coach

  • TrevJo

    The difference is DA didn’t mortgage the future with a high-risk trade to try to save the second half of the season.

  • SlashNHack

    I liked Jason Campbell and Hue… I like ant Raiders who win… Period

    I also liked TP until he went down the tubes against KC

  • 1960AutumnWind

    B and B Walsh was a Shell thing. He told B and B that if he ever got a coaching gig again that he would want him to be his OC. I believe this guy washed out at Idaho State or Idaho previous to becoming the OC in Oakland in 06 (its not worth looking up). I remember being on this blog saying we need to give B and B a chance and I think BHP correctly hammered me about being overly positive because the OC had no idea what he was doing. I think Walters got sacked like 70 times. Awful year.

  • SnBG

    It is but keep it in perspective. It took him 4 years to get there and in his first year he had 6 draft picks and money to spend. Reg and DA have started their tenure with one hand tied behind their backs.

  • R8erEduc8er

    Verrrry unwatchable. Raiders offense + Shell’s clip board holding and writing while showing no emotion was comedy for my brother. Embarrassment for me.

  • FourMoreYears

    You’re absolutely right. Hiring Shell back was a terrible personnel move.

  • Twinkle

    That desperate trade got us the best damn QB we have had in decades.Sad as hell that we didn’t have (nor would be able to assemble one for a while) a team to put around him.Damn are we ever snakebit at the QB position or what ?

  • FourMoreYears

    6 passing touchdowns all season. Never forget.

  • R8erEduc8er

    Wait. You guys been here since ’06? Wow.

  • SnBG

    Michael Bennett’s one-year contract was the single best bargain basement deal by any team in free agency last year. Other teams were scared away by his shoulder injury, but the Seahawks was happy to take on the short-term risk. (Bennett figures to strike it rich as a free agent this year.. You haters would have had Reg fired for this pick up and called him dumpsterReg.

  • David Henderson

    Agree, DA best have the Boys get OFF fast, and WIN…

  • DKnight007

    Seahawks improved significantly in year 3 of Carrolls tenure. Went to playoffs and had a shot at super bowl even last year. Allen is in year 3 next year. He needs to show more than 4 wins. McK needs to spend money wisely and not reach during the draft.

  • AutumnThunderstorm

    Wrong, I was always a Jason Campbell fan. I liked Gradkowski as well. I thought they made a great one two combination at quarterback, especially if how Al uses the position.

    He has his number one, Campbell, but is not against starting gradkowski for a game or two, then reinsert Campbell.
    He did this decades ago with Lamonica as our starter then insert Blanda or Stabler in the middle of a game or start one week.

    Also time and again, I’ve posted u ow Jason Campbell was Undefeated versus AFC West division rivals while quarterback for the Raiders 6-0 in one season 2-0 the season he was injured.

    I was Raidersretribution and raideronster back then.

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    So after McClain got drafted , he became bigger, faster, stronger. I get it now

  • Raidertalk

    I hope we cut Criner from what I’ve heard about him: Holding out, refusing to learn the playbook, etc.

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    Think they just found out they were both just stupid and lazy. Maybe that’s why our scouts were shown the door. We’ll talk about manziel after combine, he will be under the scope, I’ll give you that

  • SnBG

    Well, there you go. I can’t defend against that logic.

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    I am all for D, however I’ve not given up on Mcgloin either, but we need a game changing QB for the D and the O

  • SlashNHack

    The entire reason Wilson won a Super Bowl was because he is smart and fundamentally sound for his age. He doesn’t make big mistakes, runs well and has a pretty big arm. Pryor is a better athlete than 95% of all QBs ever! No debate there. His problem is that he has horrible fundamentals and runs backwards….We need a QB like Wilson and a good Defense…. Then we win !!!

    You accuse other people of being racists, but I bet 100% of the guys here would take Wilson over Pryor. Both are African American. 100% would also take Wilson over any Caucasion QB we have had since Gannon.

    The question is, why is clinging to Pryor so vital for you ?

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    I get they take the best college players first, I’m saying give the kid pro talent ,watch out!

  • Twinkle

    You are on top of it dude.Had to google a while to find it and then it was four minutes old.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Referring to teammates saying he’s a good guy. You don’t get it I guess.

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    I don’t want good guys, I want raiders with a huge chip on their shoulders . I was happy when they chose Russell and McClain, I relied on the scouting dept to do their job . This is going to play out soon , it’s all debatable

  • Twinkle

    Seeing if it is possible on this site more than anything.

  • Twinkle

    As they say ‘it’s how you raise em’. Didn’t realize til we got this one that they require so much attention and if they don’t get it you can have way more problem than you need. lol

  • R8drTahoe in SF

    At the cost of not building something great… YES. They don’t give out trophies for getting to the playoffs. In your words, “Great defenses win SBs” and I’d like to see the Raiders win a superbowl, not simply get to the playoffs.

  • Howard Benner

    I expect the Raiders to draft @ least one WR from this deep pool of college WR’s. . .

    I would expect unless Criner “gets it (perhaps he never wanted to be in Oakland in the first place) the Raiders would send him packing. He shouldn’t be too much of a hindrance sal cap wise. . . diva mindset without diva results

  • Depcharger

    I believe a “Congratulation” is well overdue.

    You know why? Because he’s never had a better shot.

  • Depcharger

    tom cable is a good o-line coach; but he was a horrible head coach. he didnt start winning until he got hue jackson to run the offense.

  • MVTA Raider

    He can play anywhere outside of our division for all I care.