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Story Archives: Guy set standard for punting
|Guy set standard for punting|
Legendary Alabama head football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant did not miss out on many recruits. But he told punter Ray Guy of Thomson, Ga., something he didn't want to hear when he was trying to persuade the stong-legged athlete to play for the Crimson Tide.
"Bear Bryant told me I never was going to get my uniform dirty," Guy said. "That was the wrong thing to tell me."
Guy was an All-State quarterback at Thomson, and at Southern Miss he also played defensive back and was an outstanding baseball pitcher.
According to the book, "Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden's Oakland Raiders" by Peter Richmond, when the Raiders decided to select Guy, with their first pick at No. 23, "it was the first time Al Davis, personnel operator Ron Wolf and Madden agreed on a first-round pick."
Jerry DePoyster had three punts blocked in 1972 as a Raider.
"Ron Wolf told him he could play safety when he signed him," Madden told Richmond "The first day we practice, I look up and we have Guy in at safety, and I tell him to get the hell out of there. He said, 'But Wolf told me that if I signed with you I could play safety, too.' I told him, 'Ron Wolf lied.' We never had another conversation about him being a safety."
"All I knew was playing offense, defense and kicking," Guy said. "I went from doing a multitude of different things to doing just one thing. It took a while to get used to. I would run down on punts and try to make a tackle and John would get irritated with me. Every once in a while I would bring up playing on defense and he would just tell me to hush. But I did get involved with the offense and defense at practice, filling in at receiver or quarterback or defensive back at times and I think that really helped me. I was more into the flow of the game."
Guy, who was in Natchez last week as part of the Celebrity Golf Outing, eventually signed with Southern Mississippi because his high school coach played at USM under Thad "Pie" Vann. He also considered Georgia and Western Kentucky ("I was leaning that way, but the coaches did not show up for our meeting.")
Besides booming punts for Southern Miss, Guy also played defensive back and pitched for the Golden Eagle baseball team. The 1972 first team All-American averaged better than 40 yards a kick for three years.
Guy, who is listed as one of 300 Greatest Players in NFL History by the Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League - Total Football II, was the first Southern Miss player ever to be inducted into College Football Hall of Fame, the first pure punter ever taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.
He spent 14 seasons with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, earned seven Pro Bowl selections and was a member of three Super Bowl-winning teams.
"I could not have asked for a better situation," Guy said. "I really had no idea about who they were."
Or a better coach to play for in Madden.
"John was a great motivator," Guy said. "We're only human and we are going to make mistakes. But everyone knows the mistake they made. John would point it out and then it was said and done. It was over. He only asked that we be on time for everything and play hard."
Guy holds the NFL Postseason Record for most punts in a career with 111 punts, the NFL Postseason Record for Highest Punting Average in a game with 56.0 average.
(This record includes a 71yard punt - the third longest Postseason punt in NFL history).
Guy holds the Pro Bowl Record for most punts in a career with 33 and was the first pure punter nominated for Pro Football Hall of Fame.
One of his punts hit the hanging scoreboard in the Louisiana Superdome. Another was tested for helium when the Raiders played Bum Phillips' Houston Oiler teams.
The punt that hit the scoreboard came in the 1976 Pro Bowl contest in New Orleans.
"(Official) Jim Tunney was standing next to me, and I heard him say, 'You're going to try it, aren't you," Guy said. "I nodded my head. When the ball left my hand, it was a perfect spiral. The back of the ball hit the top of the gondola, and the ball fell straight down."
Guy had to kick over and just missed it.
In a practice for the 1980 Super Bowl, Guy hit the gondola four times in a row.
"We came out Sunday, they'd raised that sucker all the way to the top," he said.
As for Phillips asking for two footballs used during the game to check for helium, Guy just laughs.
"It was humorous and a compliment," he said. "It was just one of those days where everything clicked. But I still want those footballs back. It was quite a statement, especially coming from such a legendary coach."
Guy played in 207 consecutive games in a 14-year career and had no blocked kicks in his first five NFL seasons.
He had only three of 1,049 punts blocked in his career.
"You've got two seconds to get the kick off once it gets to you," he said.
Guy placed an astonishing 57 punts inside 20-yard line during 1984-85 seasons.
Which is why he laughs when asked about the latest trend of kicking the ball straight up on its point to get it to land inside the 20-yard line.
"I just kicked the ball high," Guy said. "It's going to come down any way it wants to. It's kind of like rolling those ivory dice on the table."
Guy said he would just aim for the sidelines when trying to kick it deep.
And Guy, who never had a punt returned for a touchdown, rarely kicked away from a return specialist.
"Although Billy 'White Shoes' Johnson may tell you different," he said with a laugh. "I would have loved to have punted to Deion (Sanders)."
Guy was also an emergency quarterback on the Raiders, but knew the team was in good hands with Kenny Stabler.
"He was amazing," Guy said of 'Snake.' He never did call a play John sent in, which drove John crazy. I think the quarterback should be your field general and he has a better idea of how the game is going."
Guy retired from the game in 1986.
"I was going to play one more year, I had no idea I was going to retire," he said. "But I was having a lot of back problems. I wasn't at the point where my productivity was falling off any, but my back went out three times and it was frustrating going though rehabilitation, traction and treatment. It began to not be as much fun.'
While he values his time with the Raiders, it's evident Guy is all about Southern Mississippi. He sports black and gold attire almost everywhere.
"I think Larry Fedora is doing a great job," Guy said of the USM head football coach. "A new head coach is like a new business owner who has to get a feel of things to get it off the grond and you have to find your employers to help you according to your business. People are too impatient."
Guy said he watches USM home games from the end zone.
"I like to watch the line play, linebackers and receivers," he said. "At first they were kind of hesitant, but as the weeks went on I saw more security in the way they were doing things. I think USM is on the right track. They remind me a lot of our Raiders right now. They wait until the second half to start playing."
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