The NFL lost an unheralded football giant Thursday in Ray Guy.
The Raiders Hall of Fame punter was the first of his position to ever be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, and quickly proved he was worthy of the distinction. Guy was named a Pro Bowler as a rookie, and added another six selections throughout his career.
He was also a six-time All Pro, three-time Super Bowl champion and was named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team. The NCAA award for best punter in the nation is named after him and he's currently the only punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as he was enshrined in 2014.
The impact Guy has left on the game can be told from his closest teammates, coaches and opponents that witnessed first-hand the greatness of his 14-year career.
John Madden, Pro Football Hall of Fame Head Coach:
"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."
Art Shell, Pro Football Hall of Fame Offensive Lineman and Head Coach:
"Al Davis took Ray Guy in the first round. We said, 'Who? Ray Guy? A punter?' So, now we want to see this guy. We have a minicamp. Ray comes with a cast on his leg. We thought, 'What the hell is going on here?' Fast forward to training camp, and we are in special teams. Everybody stays to watch Ray. When he hit that first ball, 'Boom!' We knew we had something special. He was a boomer that could kick the ball out of sight. That says something about how the organization was built. Specialty players were important too."
Tom Flores, Pro Football Hall of Fame Head Coach:
"He changed the game, really. [Punter] was never a glamorous position until he came along."
Phil Villapiano, Raiders Linebacker:
"Ray Guy could change the game. He was a defense's best friend. He'd punt the ball so far down there so that teams would have to drive 90 yards. He was a defensive back. He was a quarterback. He could have played three positions if he wanted to. He was the first punter to get into the Hall of Fame. I was so happy for him. He changed punting in the NFL."
Ken Herock, Raiders Tight End, Special Teams Coach and Scout:
"I'm down at Southern Miss watching Ray Guy play Alabama. Ray was a weapon. Quarterback, safety, punter, he kicked off. ... Alabama came after him and knocked him out of the game. After that, we never saw him again. We saw him on tape. He broke his leg before we drafted him. I'm thinking to myself, 'We saw him, I have a high grade for him. He's the best punter I've ever seen in my life. But am I sure I know what I'm doing?' You're never sure about taking a punter in the first round. Maybe second or third. Mr. Davis said, 'This is the best player on the board. He's the best player to help the Raiders.' Everybody looked up and thought, 'Wow, we're really doing this. We're taking a punter in the first round.' But we did, and it turned out just how Mr. Davis wanted it to."
Alan Page, Pro Football Hall of Fame Defensive Tackle – Minnesota Vikings:
"Ray Guy was different. My impression when he was playing was that he was one of the best ever. He could punt it out of the stadium. A great punter can determine the outcome of a game, and he had that ability."
Jan Stenerud, Pro Football Hall of Fame Kicker:
"A big part of the game was field position. Over the years, I think people understood why Ray Guy was taken in the first round. It makes a difference. Ray Guy was so exceptional that I think people got it. He did his job, and he did it exceptionally well."
Morris Bradshaw, Raiders Wide Receiver:
"Ray Guy was arguably the best all-around athlete on the field. He could do it all. He could run, he could throw, he could catch. He could throw the ball farther than anyone on the team. He was our emergency quarterback. He was phenomenal."
Chris Bahr, Raiders Kicker:
"Ray was as good as there was. If they use the Jerry West logo for the NBA, Ray would be the logo for punters."