The Pro Football Hall of Fame now has a punter. Finally. Ray Guy deserved to be in Canton a long time ago. Every position should be represented in a museum that honors the greatest in the history of the sport, and Ray Guy was the greatest punter of them all.
Al Davis took a lot of heat over the years for using the 23rd overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft on a punter. Davis’ critics did the same again in 2000 when he used the 17th pick on kicker Sebastian Janikowski. In Ray Guy, Davis got a seven time Pro Bowler and an eight time All Pro, who helped the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders win three Super Bowls and punted for over 44,000 yards in his career. Davis was one of football’s great innovators, and he saw the game differently than most people. No other owner or general manager would dream of taking a punter or kickter in the 1st round, but Al Davis believed that if it’s the best player of all time at that position, then it’s a worthwhile pick. Because of Guy’s Hall of Fame selection, the chances that present day placekickers Janikowski and Adam Vinatieri will one day end up in Canton.
Outspoken former Vikings and Raiders punter Chris Kluwe must be happy. Voting Ray Guy into the Hall of Fame was favorite cause of his. It’s a long time coming, really. There has been a Ray Guy Award in college football since 2000, awarded to the country’s best collegiate punter. Anyone who has an award like that named after them belongs in the Hall.
Also selected for the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year were Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, New York Football Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, Seattle Seahawks offensive left tackle Walter Jones, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed, Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals defensive back Aeneas Williams, and Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Claude Humphrey. This is a more than worthy Hall of Fame class. I expect announcing Jones will get Seahawks fans really into it from the beginning the way Jonathan Ogden’s Hall of Fame selection did for Ravens fans last year.
Those left out of the Hall of Fame include John Lynch, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, Bill Cowher, and Mike Holmgren. I expect all of them to get in sooner or later. The Hall of Fame voting process in football is as confusing as the NBA salary cap, so I can’t give a fair estimate as to when that happens. Better luck next year, guys!
Correction: the NFL decided not to introduce the 2014 Hall of Fame class at the coin toss the way they had the last few years and the way I alluded to when the Ravens fans gave Jonathan Ogden a rousing ovation last year. Instead they decided to have New York’s Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Joe Namath and Phil Simms (and they could have had Eli Manning, too, since he was there) do the coin toss, which provided us with this great .gif!