(John Iacono/SI)
(John Iacono/SI)

You Love Ray Guy

My comments on the former Raiders punter and the Hall of Fame elicited spirited feedback—as usual

The mail arrived this morning. The bag was stuffed—overstuffed, really—with Ray Guy email, after I wrote about Guy’s Seniors Committee nomination for the Hall of Fame in this week’s MMQB column. So let’s have at it:

HE’S A NO-DOUBTER

I remember when Ray Guy was drafted number one for the Raiders [in 1973], and I thought Al Davis was crazy. Crazy like a fox is what he was. Those Raider teams were strong offensively, so Guy was trying to pin the other team in a hole a lot. On occasions when the Raiders were deep in their own end Guy would get them out of a hole, with booming punts! He never had one blocked and loved to tackle guys on returns. Guy deserves to be in the Hall. He was much more than simple statistics.

—Ed, Webster, N.Y.

I appreciate everyone’s passion about Guy. And I agree he was an excellent punter. I just think we’ve gotten into “he’s a legend’’ status with him, and the numbers are close to what other punters of his era were.

STATS AREN’T THE WHOLE STORY

I have a complaint with your analysis of Ray Guy’s importance and performance as a punter and football player. By only using the statistical measure of average yards per punt, you provide a very narrow consideration of Ray Guy’s superior talent. Having witnessed more Raider games then anyone else (except Al Davis) I can give you a lot of first-hand testimony as to his greatness. During many clutch games with the Raider offense struggling and deep in its own territory, I saw Ray Guy hit a booming punt that made the opposing team have to start not at the 50 but at its own 20 or 25 yard line. Many other times I saw Ray Guy hit beautiful coffin corner punts that put the opponent up against its own goal post. And who can forget Super Bowl 18 and his miraculous one-hand grab of an over-the-head snap and subsequent booming punt. I don’t understand why your analysis didn’t have quotes and comments from opposing coaches and players who played against Ray Guy, which could have lent a more impressive and balanced analysis of his performance and influence on the game.

—Richard

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Thanks for your contribution. As to why I didn’t include other coaches and players talking about Guy, that’s for a story about Guy, not something in my “Stat of the Week” section.

WE FEARED HIM

As a Broncos fan back then (and now), I can tell you that Ray Guy was the only punter we ever worried about on the schedule. We faced the Raiders twice each season, and before each game we knew we had to deal with predictable heroics from Ken Stabler (or whoever the QB was) and Ray Guy. He always had the potential to be a game-changer, and just as importantly we knew he’d wear us down by seemingly always punting better than anybody else we faced all season. (And even if it was only “seemingly,” it still mattered.)  At the time, in my opinion, he was in a class by himself, if only how he’d get in your head before the game even started. He’s in my Hall of Fame.

—John, Aspen, Colo.

Thanks for writing. Your comments about Guy echo what so many feel, and that’s why he was nominated as a candidate for the Hall. He will get a very fair airing by the full committee.

HE CHANGED THE GAME

You ask, ‘Is punting really a different game between 1973, when Guy entered football, and today?’ … Guy was the first one to bring the new era of punting to the NFL. As to your comparison between him and Jerrel Wilson, who I also loved watching, why can’t both of them be in the Hall? Is there only one quarterback in the Hall? Finally, assume for a minute that none of the quarterbacks prior to the current passing era were in the Hall of Fame. How many of the QBs since then have better stats than the earlier passers? Eighty-two?

—D.E.

The point about punting is that the ball is the same (maybe ever harder to punt today, because the NFL makes punters use non-broken-in balls during games now) and the distance behind center is the same, and none of the rules about punting have changed in any major way. Regarding passing, in 1973, when Guy broke into the NFL, 58 percent of the plays in an average game were running plays. In 2012 it was a 58-percent passing league. That’s not a little change. It’s a revolution.

REMEMBER SAMMY BAUGH

The oft-repeated stat that there are no punters in the Hall is a fallacy. The fact that Sammy Baugh is the greatest quarterback of all time (in the opinion of this humble if biased Washington fan) overshadows but does not invalidate the fact that he was one of the greatest punters in history, as well as being a damn good safety. Punters in the Pro Football Hall of Fame have to be viewed in the same light as designated hitters and middle relievers in baseball. No one is denying their importance to the game. But there is too much of a sameness to what they do for anyone to have a career that stands out enough to warrant enshrinement.

—Andrew, Richmond, Va.

Those are good points, Andrew. I think a punter or a kicker really has to stand out in some way to be Hall-worthy. Adam Vinatieri, for instance, for all his clutch kicks in New England. It’ll be a good debate in the coming years for Hall of Fame voters.

JORGE WANTS FOOTBALL IN MEXICO

I do not understand why the NFL is so insistent upon going to London and not a town with a bigger market or bigger potential. Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world, the Azteca Stadium is one of the largest stadiums in the world, and yet the NFL has not played a regular-season game in Mexico since 2005. Not only is Mexico a bigger market with a bigger venue, but it has more potential than England ever will. Mexico is twice as big as England (112 million to 53 million). Mexico is an emerging market, meaning the economic potential is far from being reached. Most importantly, Mexico only has one sport, soccer, while England, has many sports—rugby, cricket, tennis and soccer. This basically means that if the NFL can tap into the Mexican market it will only have to compete with one sport, while having more potential and more customers than it will in England. Please enlighten us with your opinion on why the NFL is so insistent on London.

—Jorge

Great question. I think some of it has to do with the fact that the NFL views London as the gateway to Europe, and someday there will be more than one franchise there. (Someday, probably, long after you and I are gone.) But I agree with you—there is significantly more passion for the NFL game in Mexico than in England, and I would look harder at it if I were the NFL. Shorter road trips too.

SAM IS A BOLD PROGNOSTICATOR

Before I see your chalk picks, I’d like to go on record for seeing the writing on the wall in the AFC. Baltimore, Pittsburgh (my guys) and New England will combine for no more than 25 wins and one playoff spot. They all have glaring weaknesses and ride on past laurels. I’m not a gambler, but I feel good about the proposition. Houston or Denver will emerge from the AFC to be the patsy in this year’s Super Bowl.

–Sam

Thanks, Sam, and for the record, I’d be surprised if my picks are much better than yours.

GOOD IDEA, DARRYL

Just love The MMQB. Great info. You guys should be very proud of your work. A suggestion maybe once a week or month: a Where Are They Now section. Love to know where some old players are now and what they are doing, like Sherman Plunkett, the old tackle with the jets; Otis Taylor or Mo Moorman of the Chiefs. That would be a wonderful addition to an already great site.

—Darryl

That’ll go in the ideas hopper, Darryl. Thanks. It’s a good one.

THE LAURA KING EMAIL OF THE WEEK

I can’t believe your daughter Laura is turning 30. When I first started reading MMQB you were including snippets about her high school field hockey and softball exploits. Man, I feel old! Do you think the Titans can sneak into the playoffs this year?

–Dave, Nashville

Laura is just lucky she survived 30 years of Peter King parenting. Thanks for remembering that ninth shootout (or whatever it was) Montclair field hockey playoff game against Livingston. I like Tennessee’s approach, going against the grain with re-emphasis on the run, which they will do well. I think if Jake Locker can be consistent—not spectacular, but simply consistent, and relatively mistake-free—the Titans can sneak in. But I didn’t pick them to make the playoffs.

Have a question? Want to riff? Fire away: talkback@themmqb.com

More from The MMQB
30 comments
RCH
RCH

Personally I don't feel Mr. King has an issue with Ray Guy, it's punters in general and I agree with him. 

Sorry but punting a football just isn't HoF material. Oh wow he can kick it 50 yards or hit a 10 yard wide spot whoopee.In 207 games he punted 1049 times or 5 times a game. So he strolled out and kicked a ball 5 times a game and this is HoF material?? NOT! 

Now someone who can consistently kick a football through 18 foot wide goalposts from 50 yards away might warrant consideration. 

ScottBerns
ScottBerns

Does Ray Guy belong in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. Ray Guy put the term "hang time" into the NFL vocabulary. hang time wasn't discussed before him. Ray Guy did for "Hang Time" in the NFL what Julius Erving did for "Hang Time" in the NBA.

rebonitz
rebonitz

Here's where you lose credibility Peter: you try to define Ray Guy by his numbers, as comparable to others his generation...blah, blah, blah. You vote in Curtis Martin who was never spectacular, never really dominated his era. How about Lynn Swann & or Stallworth at WR? Very pedestrian numbers. Harry Carson? Wasn't even the best linebacker on his team. But what do they have in common? They're all from the East Coast! I'm not even a Raider's fan, yet I can appreciate Ray's dominance. It's not just distance, its height & hang time; coffin corner kicks; extremely athletic player that you had to always worry about the trick play. Team's had to keep him in mind when calling their plays because he could punt them into a hole. What other punter had that impact?

nomadvroc
nomadvroc

Mr King,


I don't know if this is the right forum but, since it is regarding the HOF, I wonder if you can help with a statistical question my 18 year old has presented me. He, for some reason, is a Browns fan and he went over the career of Bruce Matthews brother and the father of a current packer, one Clay Matthews. My 18 year old presented me with statistics and youtube highlights (not that I need them; I remember) of Clay Matthews' (original). His arguments seem solid to me that Clay Matthews belongs in the HOF. Longevity notwithstanding, the guy could really play. Can you tell me why he is not in the HOF. I bet you have had these discussions. Thanks for reading.


vt59
vt59

Should Ray Guy be in the Hall of Fame? Of course. Ask 10,000 fans who have been following football for 30-50 years, "Who's the best punter of all time?" and  Ray Guy's name will come up by far the most. He is the most famous punter in the history of the game.  He is by definition 'Famous' and so belongs in the Hall of FAME. 

It's not called the Hall of Pair-wise Statistical Comparisons.    I'm not even close to being a Raider fan, but, jeez, some things couldn't be more clear.

ChrisMcCoy
ChrisMcCoy

How did Vinateri "change the game"? Other than play for teams near Peter King?

Ray Guy was FAMOUS. Evan as a Saints fan I remember he was considered a stand-out. He was the master of location. Did he always kick farther? Probably not, but he did kick more effectively. I saw Guy in games against the Rams, Saints, Niners, Chargers, and Broncos back in the day. NO ONE doubted his ability, or took him lightly. He was the ONLY punter of his era I can name without looking them up. He was the ONLY punter of his era that regularly changed the course of games he was in.

Adam Vinateri had two good seasons and some game-saving kicks. So have MANY kickers not in the hall.   

Richard A
Richard A

PK showing his true colors, he will pump up a Patriots kicker for the HOF but won't support a Raider punter that is more deserving. Aren't professional journalist's supposed to be unbiased.

MaryStricker
MaryStricker

_____________________________________

20 million illegals disagree with NFL Mexico.

Plus they already have a team - San Diego. 

--------------------------------------------------------------

PilgrimGerald
PilgrimGerald

Ray Guy was a Football Player and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, the same for Kenny Stabler!!!! Deon Sanders doesn't......

revdani
revdani

As for the other part of Jorge's argument: With taking games or a franchise to London, they don't just take it to England or GB or UK. They take it to Europe. People from all over the continent go to these games (myself included, going from Hungary... which a lot of you probably didn't even know to exist). Getting to London is really easy and cheap thanks to low-cost airlines and high-speed trains. And with ticket prices staying in the affordable area (I bought my ticket for 35 pounds = $55 or so), a lot of NFL fans from not-so-rich countries can enjoy these games.

LuisDaniel
LuisDaniel

To all those that are saying that violence would be a problem for the NFL in Mexico City: it would not. Mexico City is quite peaceful, as far as big cities go, and the drug related violence is quite localized to certain cities or regions, like Michoacán, Juárez and Sinaloa. What's more, strides are being made, and cities like Tijuana are now much more peaceful. What I'm trying to say is that if Detroit can have a team, Mexico City sure can too.

LuisDaniel
LuisDaniel

Haven't those newish sites that report on new specific stats come up with a real stat for punters? Like, Average Opponent Drive Starting Yard? That would be the best way to rate punters.

eddie767
eddie767

I think everyone who commented on the Mexico part were spot on,but you forgot one important thing:Safety. Kidnappings,murders,and bombings americans aren't safe if it is known that they are wealthy or have someone to pay ransoms. I still think a London team is crazy,but i'd rather be safe than sorry.

NeelM
NeelM

Ray Guy punted at sea level when he played home games. And other than the Astrodome, did he EVER kick indoors?

Mike26
Mike26

The NFL will NEVER go to Mexico City - who's going to own them, the Zetas?

DougZimmerman
DougZimmerman

Those Mary-Beth softball recaps were some of the best sports writing I ever read. Had me on the edge of my seat every time. Ahhh, memories.

ken.burnside
ken.burnside

The difference between Ray Guy and Jerrell Wilson is that Ray Guy had a fastball (booming kick with hang time), a knuckle-ball (coffin corner kick) and a sinker (the ability to to have the ball drop at a specified distance while keeping a nearly constant hang time.)

Power AND precision.  The reason why the stats are the same is because every punter after Ray Guy learned his tricks.  Ray Guy did for punting what Sammy Baugh did for quarterbacking.  He deserves to be in the Hall.

KristianColasacco
KristianColasacco

I think that the problem for football in Mexico is the question about whether or not their economy could support a team.  Going to an NFL game is already an expensive experience for many middle class Americans.  I don't know if middle class Mexicans would be able to afford it at all.  The NFL would have to lower prices to match the local market and I'm not sure that the NFL owners want to do or would be willing to do. 

evileyefleagle
evileyefleagle

Al Davis was crazy like a fox as long as Ron Wolf was around.

Jack4Life
Jack4Life

Jerrel Wilson was a power kicker.

Ray Guy was both power and precision. Essentially, Guy was an extention of the Raider defence.

Sure King, let the stats speak for themselves:

  • Played in 207 consecutive games
  • Punted 1,049 times for 44,493 yards, averaging 42.4 yards per punt, with a 33.8 net yards average
  • Had 210 punts inside the 20 yard line (not counting his first 3 seasons, when the NFL did not keep track of this stat), with just 128 touchbacks
  • Led the NFL in punting three times
  • Had a streak of 619 consecutive punts before having one blocked
  • Has a record of 111 career punts in post season games
  • Had five punts of over 60 yards during the 1981 season

If Wilson was his equal, then why did Guy receive this:

NFL 75th ANNIVERSARY ALL-TIME TEAM MEMBER
(Chosen by a selection committee of media and league personnel in 1994.)

SUPER BOWL SILVER ANNIVERSARY TEAM MEMBER
(Chosen by the fans in 1990 prior to Super Bowl XXV.)

1970's ALL-DECADE TEAM MEMBER
(All-Decade teams chosen by the Hall of Fame Selection Committee members.)

ALL-TIME NFL TEAM MEMBER
(Chosen by members of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee in 2000 for the book NFL’s GREATEST)

AFL-NFL 1960-1984 ALL-STAR TEAM MEMBER
(Chosen by the Hall of Fame Selection Committee in 1985.)

"He's the first punter you could look at and say, He won games." ” ---
Joe Horrigan - Pro Football Hall of Fame Historian


Sorry King, you hate big time on the Nation!!!!

DonaldGillus
DonaldGillus

Please enlighten us with your opinion on why the NFL is so insistent on London.

 Well, in London they don't chop the heads off people.  That's a start.

rskins09
rskins09

@revdani   Expanding to London would be a big mistake ...Overall, people in England don't like , or never will, American Football just as the people in the USA don't like soccer, cricket, or rugby ..Know they sell out in England when the NFL plays a exhibition  game but that is just one game ..When the NFL had the league in Holland, Germany and England  the attendance was OK but nothing great ..Most were far from sellouts .. Know the NFL ,AFC East teams don't like playing in Seattle  - it's like flying to Japan some say ....So would the AFC, NFC West teams  have to travel to  London ?  That's 6,000 , 7,000 miles one way  or would they get a bye from playing any games in England ..This London having a NFL team is a pipe dream ..BTW, I'm not anti-London ... great , impressive city  and all the people speak  English ...  

RCH
RCH

@NeelM Once that I know of. He was the first to hit the gondola hanging down from the ceiling of the Super Dome during the Pro Bowl(before it move to Hawaii). Much like hitting the video screen at Jerry's World it was a deemed a re-kick.  

marino.eccher
marino.eccher

In addition to KBin's good points: Lowering prices to account for exchange rates and cost-of-living isn't necessarily a money-losing proposition for owners, because the stadium and the franchise should be cheaper to operate. To me, it's an area where expansion makes a ton of sense. 

KBinCville
KBinCville

@KristianColasacco I agree with you that it's a question, but I think the answer would be that Mexico City could easily support an NFL team economically if the fan interest was there and was sustainable. Certainly most residents couldn't afford to take their family to a game, let alone buy season tickets. But that's true of every city in the U.S. Although per capita income is a lot less in Mexico City, there are two reasons I have no doubt about the economics. First, Mexico City is more populous than any city in the U.S., with 9 million residents in the city proper, and a staggering 21 million in the metropolitan area. The other reason is that we have 32 franchises in the U.S. for fans to support, whereas the entire nation Mexico would have only one, at least to start. It wouldn't be Mexico City's team, it would be, at least at the beginning, Mexico's team. 117 million people is a pretty big pool of support! Imagine the revenue if Mexico's only NFL franchise were televised nationwide. As for who can afford tickets, just because the middle class couldn't easily do so, hey, they can't in the U.S. either. You could fill a 100,000-seat stadium with 1/10 of 1% of the nation's population; or 1/2 of 1% of the metropolitan area's population. Not everybody in Mexico, and especially Mexico City is poor. The richest person in the world, according to Forbes Magazine, Carlos Slim Helu, is Mexican. Mexico City is headquarters for many large corporations. Just like in the U.S., corporations would buy a lot of tickets and suites for entertaining their clients. I really think as long as Mexicans really liked NFL football, the money would be there. Whether a franchise there would succeed isn't a question of money, in my opinion, it's a question of support. Heck, Los Angeles is a huge, affluent market, and their two NFL franchises left for greener pastures. Southern California pretty much shrugged and said "oh well." There's a lot to do in L.A., and there are a lot of other entertainment options in Mexico City as well. But if it were marketed well and had a good, competitive team there, I think they are much more apt to be the most economically successful NFL franchise than the least.

evil.aaronm
evil.aaronm

@Jack4Life It's funny how PK mentions "Vinatieri, for instance, for all his clutch kicks," but ignores the clutch punts made by Guy.  Double-standards,  much?  And I'm not even a Raider fan.  Guy earned his legendary status for -some- reason, but PK doesn't seem to want to dig that deep to learn why.

evileyefleagle
evileyefleagle

@Jack4Life  

King also failed to support Jim Plunkett's HOF candidacy which leaves him as the only multiple NFL Championship QB not in the hall.

Plunkett took over a losing team in 1980 and eventually won the Super Bowl, thereby proving the value of a great QB.  On the way, he became the first QB to win four games in a single post-season.  And the opposing QBs were no slouches; Ken Stabler then with Houston, Brian Sipe and the Cardiac Kids in Cleveland and Dan Fouts in the AFC final at San Diego.

Jnash23
Jnash23

@DonaldGillus crazy stuff happens in the middle of the day light in London too (not too long ago) http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/22/world/europe/uk-london-attack

NFL is having the Bills do their Toronto trip once a year. Wouldn't it make sense to have a team like the Chargers do a Mexcio City game once a year? Southern Cal team that is in financial and attendance trouble? seems like it would be a win-win. League gives team money for missed game and NFL gets a regular season game in Mexico once a year.

revdani
revdani

@rskins09 @revdani So there are a few things. First of all, under the current schedule of the NFL, I agree that there is no room for a London franchise. And even if the NFL would expand, it would cause a lot of logistical problems for all the US-based teams to play in London, and of course vice versa. I was talking about playing regular season games in London, making "elite" teams playing a game there every 3-5 years (like this year the 49ers and the Steelers).

The second thing is the NFL Europe. It was a league, where people, who usually coudn't even make practice squads of NFL teams, were the stars of the league. They tried to build franchises but didn't get real local support, and played in stadiums that were far too big for the games. And that was 10-15 years ago. Here, in Central-Eastern Europe, people started watching the game maybe 5-6 years ago. And I'm still not saying that we should restart the NFL Europe, because it still wouldn't work. But I think it's a different thing to watch the best play a game, or third-stringers.

Yes, the franchise is a pipe dream. But a system, where every team would have to play in London every 4 years (that's 4 games/year of the 256 they play in the regular season) would be fair, and would be fantastic for European fans. Wembley would sell out 4 times a year, and maybe they could even try out other venues (Munich for one...).

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