NFL and Southern Miss star punter Ray Guy dies

The Southern Miss family mourns today following the passing of Golden Eagle great Ray Guy, who died Thursday morning following a lengthy illness. He was 72.

Considered by many as the “greatest punter of all time,” Guy took the final step of his football journey by being elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

Guy, whose majestic punts helped coin the phrase “hang time,” played for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders from 1973-1986 and was the first punter to ever be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft with the 23rd pick overall.

The six-time All-Pro selection and seven-time Pro Bowl selection played in all 207 games during his 14-year NFL career and appeared in three Super Bowls (XI, XV, XVIII) marking the most victories by a punter in NFL history.

He is tied for the fifth longest service with the Raiders, along with Fred Biletnikoff (1965-78), Cliff Branch (1972-85) and Dave Dalby (1972-85), while he also is fifth for games played with Art Shell (1968-78).

Guy holds the Raiders record for most career punts (1,049) and led the NFL three times in gross punt average. In addition, he had 210 punts inside the 20-yard line (not counting his first three seasons, when the NFL did not keep track of this stat), with just 128 touchbacks. He closed out his career with a streak of 619 consecutive punts without a block.

John Madden, former Oakland Raiders’ head coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer, referred to Guy as “The best punter I’ve ever known.” He also said, “When we first drafted him, it was a heck of a choice. I thought then he could be the greatest in the league, but I changed my mind. I think Ray proved he’s the best of all time.”

The Thomson, Ga., native is also a member of the Bay Area, College Football, Southern Miss M-Club, Mississippi, Georgia and National High School Sports Hall of Fames.

His NFL honors include being named to the 75th Anniversary NFL All-Time Team at punter, as well as the 1970s All Decade Team, the All-Time NFL Team chosen by the Hall of Fame Committee in 2000 and the AFL-NFL 1960-1984 All-Star Team.

The Augusta (Ga.) Sports Council named an award in his honor to reward the top punter in collegiate football each year.

While at Southern Miss, Guy was a standout defensive back in addition to his role at punter. He proved to be one of the most versatile players in school history. A letterwinner from 1970-72 for the Golden Eagles, Guy still holds the single-season school record for most interceptions with eight in 1972, along with Billy Devrow (1965) and Bubba Phillips (1949). His career records include holding the longest punting average in school history of 44.7 yards, while still holding down second in career interceptions with 18.

He averaged 45.3 yards per punt as a sophomore, which was second in the nation and 42.9 yards as a junior. He had three career punts over 70 yards, including a 93-yarder against Ole Miss in 1972.

His prowess was not limited to his punting while at Southern Miss. He was also a standout field goal kicker, converting 25 in his career, including a 61-yarder at Utah State that at the time was an NCAA record. He was a unanimous choice as an All-American in 1972. In addition, Guy is also recognized one of the best baseball pitchers in Golden Eagle history, pitching one of only six no-hitters in school history and being drafted three times.

Following his playing days, Guy also worked at his alma mater as the Director of the M-Club and Community Relations. His work with the M-Club included maintaining a relationship with the school’s former athletic letter-winners. He later worked as part of the USM Alumni Association.

Following enshrining into the Pro Football Hall of fame, the University dedicated the street in front of its athletic building, The Duff Athletic Center, to Ray Guy Way in the summer of 2015.

Funeral arrangements are pending at this time.

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