HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Ray Guy, the first kicker inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Thursday at the age of 72.
Southern Mississippi University, where Guy shone before becoming the first kicker in history to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, said he died after a long fight against disease. He was receiving treatment at a health facility in the Hattiesburg area.
Guy was drafted 23rd overall by the Al Davis Oakland Raiders in 1973 and played his entire 14-season NFL career with that organization. He was also retained on three occasions on the all-star team.
In 2014, Guy became the first player in history to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame exclusively for his kicking skills.
“Ray Guy was a kicking football player,” the late John Madden, his former coach, said before he delivered Guy’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech.
Guy was selected to the NFL All-Star Team as part of the league’s 75th anniversary and to the ’70s All-Star Team. He contributed to three Super League titles. Bowl of the Raiders and was named to the Pro Bowl seven times.
The honor given annually to the top college kicker is named after Guy, who was also the first kicker to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
Madden once shared that the first time he saw Guy kicking a Raiders practice, he knew he had a special player on his team.
“He was making the longest, highest punts I had ever seen,” Madden described.
His kicks could be so high that one of them, in a Pro Bowl game, hit the Superdome scoreboard, suspended 90 feet above the field. That kick helped coin the term ‘hang time’ in football jargon.
His ability to push the opposing club deep into their territory with kicks high or directed to a strategic place on the field was a major contributor to the successes of the great Raiders formations of the 1970s and 1980s.
Guy ended his professional NFL career in 1986 with a streak of 619 kicks without a single being blocked. However, it took him almost three decades to be inducted into the Football Hall of Fame.
Although his average of 42.4 yards per punt ranks him 61st in NFL history, he is still seen today by many observers as the best to have held this position.