Ray Guy, considered by many the greatest punter in football history, died Thursday following a lengthy illness. He was 72.
Guy starred with the NFL’s Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders from 1973-86, his booming punts becoming legendary for not only their distance but their “hang time” — a phrase coined by TV broadcasters to describe his kicks. He was a six-time first-team All-Pro, a seven-time Pro Bowler and a three-time Super Bowl champion who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
A native of Swainsboro, Ga., Guy was a multi-sport, multi-position standout at Southern Miss in the early 1970s. A unanimous All-American as a punter in 1972 when he averaged more than 44 yards per attempt, he was also an outstanding defensive back and placekicker who set a school single-season record with eight interceptions and made a then-record 61-yard field goal in a game at Utah State (he also boomed a 93-yard punt vs. Ole Miss).
Guy also starred in baseball, and was drafted four different times as a pitcher, three times in the midst of a college career that saw him strike out 260 batters in 220 innings for the Golden Eagles. He opted instead for football after the Raiders made him the rare punter drafted in the first round, No. 23 overall, in 1973.
A member of the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade team and its 75th and 100th anniversary all-time teams, Guy was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2000, the Greater Georgia Sports Council created the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the top punter in college football.