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News

Ray Guy Discusses Hall of Fame Selection

Posted Jul 28, 2014

Ray Guy spoke to the media via conference call this morning and discussed his pending induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this coming weekend.

Opening Statement: “I know a lot of you have been trying to get in touch with me and a lot of times I don’t return the call, but it’s been kind of busy since February the 2nd. I haven’t really had time to kind of sit down and take in the moment and all that. But, here in the last three or four days with everything over and said and done, I’ve got everything that I was supposed to have done. Coming up this weekend I’ve had to sit down and just relax and think about it and make sure I’ve got all the loose ends tied up. We leave out of here on Tuesday morning, about nine o’clock and we’ll fly to Canton [Ohio] and I’m looking forward to it, I really am. Getting up there and being with my class, the 2014 [Hall of Fame Inductee Class], but I want to see also some of the former Raiders inductees through the years, some of the other players I’ve played against. I’m looking forward to it.”

Q: What has the process been like to put together your speech and sum up your life and career in one speech?

Guy: “The deal is, the speech has been kind of tough for me to compose it, put it exactly the way I want it and describe how I feel and how I got to this point in my career, which is pretty much the last thing I’ll ever do as far as sports are concerned. It’s been kind of tough, because of all the other things I have to go through, the invitations to all the people I want to have up there to be with me and to help celebrate this very special occasion and all that, it’s been kind of tough as far as sitting down and really putting it into words. But, I think I’ve pretty well got it organized the way that I think. I call it the long journey to the Hall, because I look back when I was very young and not in school and playing and this and that and the other and wondering about what I was doing and stuff like this. I think I’ve got it in perspective, be honest with you. I know what I want to say. It’s going to be tough, reason being is because there are certain people in my life that were very influential on me, along with my high school coach isn’t going to be there, my college coach won’t be there, of course Al Davis won’t be there, mom and dad are gone. So there are things that matter that are going to be very emotional, I’m pretty sure everybody goes through this. But, yet, in turn, I’ll pretty much highlight the road I took to the final destination of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I think all you’ve got to do is just wait and hear what I have to say.”

Q: What are some of your most memorable times with the Raiders and what were some of the challenges that you had to fight through?

Guy: “We always have a lot of challenges we have to fight through. Everything is not a straight line, it’s not a straight road to your destination. You’re going to have curves, you’re going to have bumps, detours and things like this, you’re going to have adversity that we have to face, but all that goes with life in general. Once you’re born you’re always going to have those things that are going to face you during your life, you just have to bear with it and learn how to deal with it and learn how to straighten it out and make it better. The memorable moments, one is going back to 1973, whoever would have thought that a true punter basically would be drafted into Pro Football with the Raiders and things like that as a true punter. Normally, back in my era and all that days, pretty much everyone played everything, whether it was offense, defense and special teams and all that because of all the numbers you had to deal with in school and all this. But yet, in turn, we all have a destiny and you go through life and you compete at different levels, different positions and all that. As you get older and you get into that certain time, we’re always faced with going to do one thing and when I was drafted as a punter, it took me at least two years to get used to doing one thing. But I knew the importance of everything and I knew my job was very important with the Raiders. From the standpoint of basically contributing to the Raiders in general, their winning percentage and their winning tradition and all that. The only adversity I think I had to face was my mental deal going to the first day of the training camp and getting to know all the veterans that I had not had the chance to meet. I knew about a lot of them, how they performed during their career and all this, but I also learned that I was going to have a little adversity there because I know a lot of them were thinking, ‘well what is Al doing? He drafted a punter, as a number one draft choice? How is that going to help?’ After the first day, it became obvious that they realized that I was more than just a punter, I was more of a team player, because that’s the way I had been raised and that’s the way I went through all my life. I wanted to do anything I could, not only from a punter standpoint, but from a player in general, to blend in, to participate during the practice and learn what was going on, learn what the strategy was going to be for the upcoming games on Sunday. So, I think after the first day I felt like I had been there all my life, so I could not have asked for a better situation and gotten into a better situation with the Raiders and the organization in general. I just felt like I had been there all my life. It was just like growing up as a youngster in Thompson, Georgia. These guys I grew up with, they’re my family and I’m a part of them now.”

Q: From your perspective, how did you come about choosing John Madden to present you in Canton?

Guy: “The deal with that is that, I went up to Canton in 1992 when Al got inducted, and what I wanted to do was I wanted Al to do it, of course. We’re only here for a little while basically, but I wanted him to do it and then of course he’s not going to be able to be there, he is there but he’s not there verbally introducing me. I wanted to keep it within the family, and when I say family I’m talking about the Raiders, so the next obvious choice would be John. I do know that from the standpoint in ’73, in January when I got drafted, I talked to John on the phone after they drafted me; I talked to him for a long time. So, John is going to be a great inspiration to me when he’s standing up there. I don’t know what he’s going to say, because nobody knows what he’s going to say, but you know I wanted to keep it through the chain of command. And then, if John was not available, it would have stepped right down to Tom [Flores] because Tom was there as the offensive coordinator all of my years until John retired and then Tom took over, so there was no change there, there wasn’t a change in anything it just kept the same thing. So, I just wanted to keep it in the Raider family. I hope that answered your question about why I chose John. I could not have asked for a better presenter than John Madden, because he’s part of my family.”

Q: Were you aware prior to the draft that the Raiders were serious about taking you in the first round?

Guy: “Well, I’ll be honest with you, to answer that question that you just asked me, no. I was not aware prior to the draft. In fact, the only time that I even came in contact with the Raiders was like two or three days before that, and that’s when I guess John sent Ken LaRue, apparently he flew into New Orleans and he drove up to Hattiesburg [Mississippi] and he came to my door that morning early and knocked on the door. That’s the first time that I even knew that the Raiders were basically interested in me. Now one thing that I did know about, I did know a little bit about the Raiders, because we had a former player for the Raiders that lived here, his name was Tommy Mara. Which Tommy played at Southern and he played for the Raiders for a number of years and Tommy is a real good friend of mine. We got to know one another and this and that and the other, so he kind of mentioned the Raiders and all this stuff. As far as really knowing anything about if the Raiders were interested in me, no I did not know it until technically two or three days before that. So, I was kind of surprised on that end, but fate has its way to work out. You go from day to day and you get a notification about something that is going to happen in your life and you just deal with it and go with it.”

Q: Can you remember what your first conversation with Al Davis was like?

Guy: “Not really, because most of my conversation was with the coaching staff and what would be the basically special teams coach back then. Al and I, we really hit it off real well. Al was just as pleasant, with talking about the Raider tradition and what they expect of their players and this and that and the other. We pretty much had a similarity on background as far as growing up, and we’re very competitive and we wanted to be the best we can be and we wanted the best for not only our team, but we wanted the best for the organization and the NFL in general. He was just telling me, we got you for this, we want you to do this because we’ve been lacking a little bit in that area as far as the punter is concerned and we know you can fill this position, you can do great things. That made me feel great, because he’s accepting me and he’s just telling me what he wants me to do. Through the years of playing with him, Al never really interfered with my performance, one thing, he never interfered basically with my workout program. He didn’t put any kind of pressure on me through the 14 years of playing, because when I do something I’m going to give it everything I’ve got. I’m very competitive with myself. I’m probably the worst critic about me, my performance. Even though it might look like I was doing great, but to me I felt like I could do a little bit more. The thing about it, I think after the first week Al saw that there again, I blend in with the organization and I’m concerned with the organization, I want to be a part of the organization, I want to give it everything I got. I wanted to take that position that probably was not what he thought would be the best, it wasn’t the best at that time, I wanted to make it the best, because everything is divided into thirds, offense, defense and special teams and we had great special teams. Al never complained about what I did. The only thing that he complained about one time was I got up to about 220 pounds and he thought I was too fat. So, Al was very concerned back in those days about the poundage of the players. Of course now, if you’re not 300 or plus, you’re not right. But anyways, we were very good. He would always ask my opinion about certain things, as far as what I thought we needed to do within the team itself to make it better or about a certain player he might want to trade for or a kid that he was thinking about drafting coming out of college. He always asked my opinion about it, now that doesn’t mean he would take it, but at least he would ask you and he wants your opinion in depth on the organization to get better, and I would always give it to him. We had a great relationship, we always did. We never got into any kind of argument as far as concerned with negotiations about money. We always sat down and we always talked about it and we would come to an agreement and after it was over, said and done, and we went about our business and that was my job and I loved what I was doing. If I had to do it again, I’d do the same thing. We’re still a family and I do know that phrase I learned that a few years ago, ‘Once you’re a Raider, you’re always a Raider,’ and that’s the way it’s going to be and that’s the way I want it to end.”

Q: Is there anything at all that you regret?

Guy: “No, I don’t regret anything. Growing up when I did, through the times I did from Georgia and Southern Miss, the way it is now, we were very limited as far as knowing about different teams. I grew up knowing the Falcons, because I’m from Georgia, get to Southern Miss and then you know about the Saints. I knew about the Cowboys. The top ones, the Vikings, the Packers, the Giants and all that back in that era. The TV was not openly showing everything like they did and of course the AFC came in and we were very limited about picking up a lot of the games when the teams played them. So, I did not know a lot about the Raiders in general. I knew they existed because I knew of the year they came into existence. So, when I got drafted by them, I had really not an idea about them and where they were and all this stuff, so I was a little concerned about that. But no, I don’t have any complaints. Like I said before, prior to this, fate and your destiny has a way of working out. All you have to do is follow that road and do the best you can when you’re traveling that road and once you get to that destiny, you do the best you can. I think the deal is, when I got to the Raiders and found out about the different characteristics of the players, the coaches and the organization in general, that’s the way I grew up. We grew up as a family. We grew up as individuals from different backgrounds, but yet we were the same. We loved what we did, we loved playing and we loved to win. We stuck together, we backed each other, we knew each other. Basically, they are my brothers, past and present. They are my brothers and they always be. I would do it again because I don’t know if I could play with anybody else. I always asked Al that, I said, ‘Al, are you going to trade me?’ He said, ‘Well, you’re always on the trading block but I don’t want you on the other side of the sideline from me.’ So, I said, ‘Okay, fine, just pay me.’ The thing about it is, money was not an issue; it was not an issue. I never got greedy with it, none of us got greedy with it that I know of. Of course, I didn’t ever know what anybody made anyways and didn’t care, that wasn’t my business. I was there to continue to play football, do what I loved, as long as I could and I wouldn’t change anything. If I had to do it again, I would do the same thing.”

Q: When you were drafted, was there any thought in your mind that you would come in as a punter/safety and when was it made clear to you that you were coming here to kick? Guy: “Well, that was one of the deals that I really had to kind of change in my life you might want to say. Coming out of Southern Miss and being a starting free safety all four years, but yet still handling all the kicking duties and all that, it’s tough. When you’re doing so many things and contributing in so many areas, and then all of a sudden one of your life starts out where you’re only focusing on one thing, it’s tough to get it out of your system, because your body is so geared, your mind is geared to doing everything. That was probably one of the hardest things that I had to face the first couple years, is to get that mentality of being a starting safety and hitting people out of my mind and then focusing on one thing as being a punter. But, in turn, I think me being able to do things from a defensive standpoint and an offensive standpoint, don’t get me wrong, that made me more acceptable with the players. Like in the first year of the preseason and all that, I made a lot of tackles on kickoff, I made a lot of tackles on punts and I think during the course of the games during the preseason, the players saw that and they said, ‘Hey look, this boy is more than a punter. He’s valuable as a punter but he can do other things.’ I think that made me more acceptable to them from a standpoint, and it sure made my life a little easier because I began to relax more because I wanted to be a part of that team, I wanted to be involved in it. Not just going out there and practicing and doing my thing and going over and sitting down on the sideline or whatever you might want to do. I wanted to be involved because I wanted to know what was going on and I never wanted to lose that perspective of it, because it made my job easier knowing during the week, practicing with the players, about what the game plan was. What’s the strategy? Who are we playing? What do we need to do during that game on Sunday? What do I need to do from a standpoint when I have to punt a ball or kickoff a ball? Where do I go with it? How do I make it better for the team to make it easier on them? It took me a long time and John used to get mad about it, Al used to get mad about it. But, I think in general, after the first two years or three years, I think they had to say that just to keep face with the other players, because I’m going to make tackles I guarantee you that.”