Ray Guy, the first player to hit the Pro Football Hall of Fame, passed away on Thursday. He was 72 years old.

Southern Mississippi, where Guy starred before becoming the first player to ever hit the first round of an NFL draft. he said he died after a long illness. He was cared for in a hospice in Hattiesburg.

Guy was voted 23rd overall by the Al Davis’ Raiders in 1973 and played his entire 14-year career with the team. He was a triple All-Pro pick. In 2014, he became the first player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame solely for punting.

Los Angeles Raiders vs. Washington Redskins
Ray Guy # 8 of the Los Angeles Raiders kicks the ball against Washington during an NFL game on October 2, 1983 at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC.

Focus on sports / Getty

“Rightly so, a lot was written when Ray Guy was sanctified in Guangzhou about how his choice as the first real player created a” complete roster “of players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But too often, the person behind his powerful right leg has been overlooked, ”said Hall of Fame president Jim Porter in a statement.

“Ray was a warm, humble Southern gentleman who represented the game, the Raiders and the Hall of Fame with dignity and class at all times,” he said.

– A really gifted athlete, he could have been the star of Major League Baseball or professional basketball. NFL fans thank Ray for focusing on football, Porter said.

Guy was selected for the squad to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the NFL and the entire decade of the ’70s. He was a three-time Super Bowl champion and a seven-time Pro Bowl selector.

As noted by CBSSports.com, Guy’s greatest NFL game could have happened in Super Bowl 18, when he managed to take down a high snap with one hand before punching over 40 yards and averting a potential touchdown in Washington. The Raiders won the match 38-9.

A native of Thomson, Georgia, Guy is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the National High School Sports Hall of Fame.

Guy also played defensively in southern Mississippi. He still shares the school’s one-season record for most steals with eight in 1972.

Guy ended his career in the NFL in 1986 with a streak of 619 points without blocking one. But it was almost three decades before he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He has been a finalist in induction seven times since 1992, without a vote, and on other occasions he hasn’t even made it this far.

“That kind of thing bothered me because they said it wasn’t a position, you don’t need an athlete, it’s not important,” Guy said before being inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2014.

“This is what really got under my skin. It wasn’t whether I did or not. Too bad someone did. I just knew they didn’t care, ”he said.

– It chilled me a little.

The guy revolutionized the position in many ways.

His kicks were so high that the one that hit the Superdome scoreboard 90 feet above the pitch in the Pro Bowl helped introduce “suspension time” into football’s language. His ability to pin down his opponent deeply with high kicks or well-positioned kicks was a key part of the success of the great Raiders teams of the 70s and 80s.

“It was something that was given to me. I don’t know how, ”he said. “I am truly blessed in this category. It’s something that I really appreciate, I have developed it and made it something wonderful. “

Guy’s stats seem a bit boring compared to today’s players. His career average of 42.4 yards per roll ranks 61st all time, and his net average of 32.2 yards (excluding the first three seasons when stats were not run by the NFL) is not even in the top 100.

However, he is still considered by many to be the best to ever play in this position.

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