Pro Football Hall of Fame punter, USM legend Ray Guy passes away

Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 10:25 AM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Pro Football Hall of Famer and legendary University of Southern Mississippi punter Ray Guy has died.

Guy died Thursday morning following a lengthy illness, according to Southern Miss Athletics. He was 73 years old.

“The Southern Miss family mourns today following the passing of Golden Eagle great Ray Guy, who died Thursday morning following a lengthy illness,” said Southern Miss Athletics in a statement.

A Thomson, Ga., native, Guy played punter, as well as defensive back, for the Golden Eagles from 1968-1972 before being drafted by the then Oakland Raiders in 1973 as the first punter to ever be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

In 2014, Guy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

During his tenure at Southern Miss, Guy averaged 45.3 yards per punt as a sophomore and 42.9 yards as a junior. He had three career punts over 70 yards, including a 93-yarder against the Ole Miss Rebels in 1972.

Guy still holds the single-season school record for most interceptions with eight in 1972, along with fellow Golden Eagles Bill Devrow (1965) and Bubba Phillips (1949). His career records include holding the longest punting average in school history of 44.7 yards, while still being at second in career interceptions with 18.

Not to be limited to football, Guy was also recognized as one of the best pitchers in Golden Eagle baseball history, pitching one of only six no-hitters in school history and being drafted three times.

The six-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler played in all 207 games during his career from 1973-1986, with all of them being a member of the Raiders while they were in Oakland and Los Angeles. He appeared in three Super Bowls (XI, XV and XVIII), winning them all, which still stands as the most victories by a punter in league history.

Guy holds the Raiders record for most career punts (1,049) and led the league three times in gross punt average, along with having 210 punts inside the 20-yard line (not counting his first three seasons where the NFL did not track the stat), with just 128 touchbacks. He finished his career with a streak of 619 consecutive punts without a block.

“The best punter I’ve ever known,” said former Raiders’ head coach and hall of fame John Madden. “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.”

After his playing career, Guy worked at USM as the Director of the M-Club and Community Relations, and later as part of the USM Alumni Association.

In 2000, The Augusta (Ga.) Sports Council named an award in Guy’s honor to reward the top punter in college football each year.

Following his hall of fame enshrinement, USM dedicated the street in front of its athletic building, The Duff Athletic Center, to Ray Guy Way in the summer of 2015.

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