Legendary NFL Hall of Fame Punter Dead at 72

NFL legend Ray Guy died Thursday morning after a long illness. He was 72.

He was the first and remains the only punter to have ever made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Guy’s death was announced by his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, on Thursday.

Guy spent his entire 14-year NFL career with the Raiders in Oakland and Los Angeles and was named first-team All-Pro six times.

In a statement Thursday, the team, now in Las Vegas, called him “a legendary punter who revolutionized special teams.”

“Guy’s high, booming punts often pinned opponents deep within their own territory, helping introduce the term ‘hang time’ into football lexicon,” the Raiders said.

Born Dec. 22, 1949, in Swainsboro, Georgia, Guy was an All-America at Southern Miss, according to his Pro Football Hall of Fame bio.

In addition to punting, he kicked 25 field goals for the Golden Eagles, including a then-NCAA record 61-yarder, according to the school.

Guy began a string of football “firsts” after college when he became the first punter ever selected in the first round of the NFL draft, going 23rd overall to Oakland.

He went on to win three Super Bowl championships during his long career with the Raiders: in 1977, 1981 and 1984.

Only three of 1,049 punts in his pro career were blocked, and when his career ended in 1986, he was on a streak of 619 punts without a block — the second-longest ever at the time.

In 2014, Guy became the first punter inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In 2000, the award given annually to the best collegiate punter was named after him. The organization behind the Ray Guy Award issued a statement about his death Thursday evening.

“The Augusta Sports Council Board of Directors are saddened to announce the passing of legendary punter and friend, Ray Guy,” it said. “Guy passed earlier today surrounded by family in Hattiesburg, Mississippi where he resides.”

“Ray Guy did more than pave a career, he pioneered one,” the organization said. “Guy’s impact on the game of football, specifically on the importance of the punter, is incredible and will continue to influence the generations of players to come.”

In addition to his football prowess, Guy was a dominant pitcher, throwing a no-hitter for Southern Miss and getting drafted multiple times by MLB teams. But he elected to pursue a football career.

Many mourned his death on Twitter.

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of Pro Football Hall of Fame punter Ray Guy. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones,” the NFL tweeted.

A.J. Cole, the Raiders’ current punter, tweeted, “man… this hurts to hear. rest in peace to a LEGEND!! he changed the game and made punting for the @Raiders such a special job.”

Others shared similar sentiments.

Many will remember Guy as a football pioneer, an NFL legend and the greatest punter of all time.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.