Ray Guy took his place among the game’s immortals Saturday night when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He made a little extra history along the way.
The Oakland Raiders' first-round draft pick in 1973 is the first pure punter to be enshrined. He is the 22nd Hall of Famer the Raiders recognize.
"Punters," former Raiders coach and fellow Hall of Famer John Madden said in his introduction of Guy, "are football players, too."
In a speech that lasted nearly 15 minutes, Guy spoke of his long and winding road to Canton from the fields of Georgia.
"There are no more games to play," he said, "no more records to set or championships to win. This is beyond my wildest dreams. I didn’t do it alone."
Guy, a seven-time Pro Bowl and three-time All-Pro selection, thanked members of his family first, saying the greatest influences in his life were his late mother and father. He also mentioned his late college coach at Southern Mississippi, P.W. Underwood, as well as late Raiders owner Al Davis, who was represented in Canton by his wife Carole and son Mark, the current Raiders managing general partner. Two-time Super Bowl-winning Raiders coach Tom Flores was also in the audience.
"Playing in the NFL with the Raiders was my destiny," said Guy, one of just six players to have been on all three of their Super Bowl title teams.
Also a safety in college, Guy was an athlete. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds. He also said he could have played in the NBA.
Just three of Guy’s 1,049 career punts were blocked.
"Ray Guy made people in the 'hood say, 'I’m Ray Guy,'" Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin said on the NFL Network.
"There was nothing too technical or complicated" about how Guy kicked, he said. "I was taught to keep my ego in its place. I’d rather be in the background, just one of the people.
"I am who I am, and that’s all you're ever going to get."
Guy said he was told recently that the biblical meaning of his uniform number, 8, was a new beginning. As such, he hoped his inclusion at Canton was a new beginning for punters, as well as continuing to serve as an inspiration.
"Punters," Guy said, "keep the faith. You are an important part of every game.
"This is long, long overdue. But now, the Hall of Fame has a complete team."