HOF Profile: Ray Guy

ray_guyIt has finally happened, a kicker has made the Hall of Fame for the first time in the history of the NFL. Appropriately the man to lead as the first ever kicker in the hall is possibly the greatest kicker in the history of the NFL. It is another step towards kickers getting respect in a game that sees them as secondary. Kickers have always been a different part of the NFL, sitting on the outside of the game and being seen as less than football players. After all they are the only members of a team who never really put a hit on someone and rarely step on the field. Many times they are seen simply as soccer players with pads on rather than football players. It has always been one of the most physical games in the world and when someone is not as physical many people take offence to that and do not consider them to be a part of the team and keep them on the side in favour of the more physical players or the players who are on the field more. Yet still kickers can be some of the most important players on a team and the fact that they sit on the sidelines more often than most just adds to their importance and the importance of finding a good kicker. For placekickers they can mean the difference between winning a game and losing one and many times it has come down to a kick to determine the winner of a big game. A punter’s value is much harder to see and many times that can is because they do things so easily. A punter can completely change the face of a game giving the defence a much better chance to stop the other team. When a punter does not do it properly the field position game is lost and the defence is put into a tough position to try to stop a touchdown. Kickers may not be the most recognizable or the most respected players in the game but they play a very important part and the best of all kickers will show that when he enters the Hall of Fame as the first kicker ever to earn a bust in Canton.

Ray Guy is a strange case in the NFL as his ground breaking election to the Hall of Fame is not the first time he has changed things for kickers. After an impressive college career Guy would make history before even stepping foot on an NFL field. For his time in College, Guy had the award for the nation’s best Collegiate punter named after him. had the award for the  His college career at Southern Mississippi would impress many in the NFL but as is the usual way in the NFL many teams would just wait for him to drop through the draft. No kicker was taken too high in the draft and so nobody was looking at Guy in the top few rounds of the draft. All teams except for the Oakland Raiders, who had made a habit of strange risky decisions. The Raiders and Al Davis took Guy in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft becoming the only kicker to ever be taken in the first round of the NFL draft. He still holds that honour with no kicker being taken that high since 1973. The move was highly criticized by the NFL community but it wasn’t necessarily a bad decision. Guy became the greatest punter in NFL history consistently winning the field position game for the Raiders and giving a great defence plenty of room to work. It seems only right that a punter at the level of Ray Guy becomes the first ever kicker to make it into the Hall of Fame and he will likely be the last for a very long time as he continues to carry the torch for kickers in the NFL.

ray_guy

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