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Ray Guy


This is a couple weeks old, but is still awesome in every way:

Dear Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee members,

I had the dubious pleasure of reading an article on Yahoo yesterday about Ray Guy, and I have one thing to ask every single one of you.

How dare you?

How dare you tell a man who devoted his life to perfecting his craft that he’s not worthy of admission among the game’s greatest? How dare you have the heartless effrontery to pronounce that football is a team sport, but that some positions are more equal than others? How dare you be so selfish, short-sighted, and just plain asshole-ish to declare that Ray Guy won’t be recognized for his skills because you’re too goddamned lazy to learn the subtleties of kicking?

That’s right, voting committee, you’re lazy. You’re indolent, slothful, petulant, ignorant, and flat-out stupid. You perpetuate the same small-minded “Oh, he’s just a kicker” stereotype every single time you refuse to acknowledge that Ray Guy belongs in the Hall of Fame, because YOU’RE UNWILLING TO LEARN.

Read the rest, etc.

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  • MAJeff

    Great to seem him cover the HoF 50th anniversary logo on his uniform with a little “Vote for Ray Guy” sticker today.

  • cpinva

    i was hoping mr. kluwe would tell us how he really felt.

  • Catch made by Murray

    What are the subtleties of kicking touchbacks?

    Here’s a nice article about Guy, BTW.


  • Anderson

    The only NFL player who might someday write a book I would read.

    • wengler

      You’re not interested in this?

      • thusbloggedanderson

        Strangely, no.

  • /sarcasm

    But Reggie Roby wore a watch while he punted, so how macho do you have to be to kick in the NFL?

    /end sarcasm

  • Shane

    Given the current selection criteria that only allows a max of 5 players to be selected there should never be a punter in that list. There will never be a year where a punter is one of the 5 best available players to be selected.

    • Alan Tomlinson

      [if that’s sarcasm, ignore the following: if not, brace yourself]

      What a galactic load of shit you throw! Ray Guy was simply amazing and is more worthy than many.


      Alan Tomlinson

    • Unsympathetic

      Objectively incorrect. I’d rather see Ray Guy in the Hall of Fame than any of the following:

      Curtis Martin [seriously, who the flip is he?]
      Willie Roaf
      Cortez Kennedy
      Chris Doleman
      Jack Butler

      Yep, the only 2012 member who I can’t argue with is Dawson. All the rest were good players but I’m not impressed.

      Ray Guy, however, defined his position — not redefined it, he literally invented the definition of his position. Hang time? Yep. Inside the 20? Yep.

  • The rant is entertaining, to be sure. However, he does tip over the edge in places into horses-ass territory, particularly with his petulant “how many of you have tried kicking or punting” admonition. If none of us could have opinions about anything we have not tried to do, that would certainly change the whole game of journalism and reporting. Another thing that I would note is that I find myself listening to ex-NFL players all the time holding forth about the game on television, and a number of them make a powerful argument for the viewpoint that talking and saying something useful or interesting are two entirely different things.

    • Fighting Words

      I don’t know what it is about football, but out of all the major sports (and in addition to North American sports, I would also include soccer, rugby, and hell, even Australian rules football), football announcers are hands down the worst. The worst part about this is that it shouldn’t be the case because football games have really good production values and lots of breaks in the action.

      • Wow, is this ever true. Driving home yesterday I listened to the Rams/Bills game. Leaving aside the grizzly quality of play (the sort of game where it can truly be said that it was a shame someone had to win) the St Louis announcing team was epically brutal. Now that I think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a particularly good radio booth team.

        • the grizzly quality of play

          Surely you’re thinking of the Bears.

      • Anonymous

        It’s logical. There are about 4-5 broadcast teams which cover baseball nationally. After that, it’s all local coverage. The local people cover the same team all the time, so they know it well. The national teams work together and work a lot.

        In football, you have over 16 national coverage teams. They work once a week for 16 weeks. When you’re watching a lower end coverage team do a football game, your watching a team which doesn’t have much experience at what their doing, which has not worked together very much, covering a pair of teams they don’t know well. It’s unavoidable.

    • Yes and no. Those of us who haven’t tried it can certainly look at things and judge one punter or kicker better than another. It’s harder to say that punting by its nature isn’t important enough to the game to put even the greatest punter in the HOF.

      • I”m making no judgements about Ray Guy’s candidacy, however. I just think it’s fair for Kluwe to be indignant about his position being disrespected by a group of doofuses.

        • Catch Made by Murray

          He’s not being disrespected by doofuses.

          Guy was voted All-Pro a ton of times and most football journalists loved him. His main critic was Paul Zimmerman (Dr. Z), who was on the HOF panel. Zimmerman pointed out that Guy put up great gross averages, but poor net, which wasn’t even an official stat at the time.

          Dr Z wasn’t Bill James, but he was playing a similar role. The pro-Ray Guy people are the same ones who voted Steve Stone for Cy Young.

          • Like I said, I’m not judging Ray Guy in particular. I don’t know anything about him. Most of Kluwe’s letter is a general defense of the art of punting. Perhaps Guy is a bad vehicle for it, but the general defense of a position unrecognized by HOF voters for 50 years now seems understandable to me.

  • Leeds man

    Has the quality of a team’s punting ever made the difference in a championship? I don’t mean one play in a key game, but over the course of a season.

    • Bill Murray

      probably in the 1920s, that was a low-scoring, field position game with lots of quick kicks

  • Kurzleg

    Isn’t punting supposed to be the sacrifice bunt of football?

    • Catch made by Murray

      Punting is the sacrifice bunt of Liberal Fascism.

  • Bitter Scribe

    Punters are like undertakers. No matter how good you are at your job, no one really wants to have to use you.

  • bill

    This article is nonsense. Guy was not as good a punter as his supporters claim (http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/a-closer-look-at-ray-guys-hall-of-fame-candidacy/) and punters simply aren’t as valuable as players at most all other positions.

    • Catch Made by Murray

      I posted the same link above. It’s not entirely anti-Guy, but the most precious part is quoting John Madden saying Guy never had a punt returned for a TD, and then listing five times when it happened.

    • Emily

      It’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Statistics. And Ray Guy was real famous as a punter.

  • shah8

    It’s so much fun to find ways to devalue the effort of anyone you please, isn’t it?

    Running backs should never be first round picks, and punters should never be considered HOF material, and, and, and…

    • Craigo

      It’s not so much devaluing them as valuing them appropriately.

      If you want to pretend that a mediocre player at a fungible position deserves to be in the hall of fame, that’s your choice. But there are probably guys who were actually good at much more important jobs on the field who deserve to get in first.

      • Njorl

        The Ray Guy some people remember probably does belong in the HoF. The real one, not so much.

        • shah8

          Far too late to reply, I suppose…

          1) I said punters, not Ray Guy

          2) Virtually the only person who isn’t judged to be fungible in the NFL are white quarterbacks, even if they are mediocre. I just think it’s essentially a sin, at this point, to tell other people how they should be valued, because you’re only doing the Man’s work for him, and legitimizing your own potential lack of value as well.

  • MosesZD

    What an idiot. I was a Raiderfan in those day. Before Al Davis moved the team to LA.

    Guy wasn’t that great of a punter. Sports Illustrated went through every one of his punts a few years ago and laid it out in black-and-white: Ray Guy was a middle-of-the-endzone punter/down the center of the field punter.

    As far as putting him in… He’s not even a Top-50 punter:

    80. John Jett 42.4 1993-2003
    Bob Waterfield+ 42.4 1945-1952
    Ray Guy 42.4 1973-1986
    Lee Johnson 42.4 1985-2002
    Nick Harris (33) 42.4 2001-2012
    Bob Smith 42.4 1948-1954
    Matt Turk (43) 42.4 1995-2011

    Ray Guy is famous because he had that funky high-kick follow-through and, once, during warm-ups, he was goofing off and hit the NO. Superdome gondola in it’s lowered, pre-game position of 90′ (30 yards).

    Whoop-de-do. He had a gimmick. But he wasn’t a great punter. He was poor at coffin kicks. He was poor at inside the 10 kicks. He was poor as a directional punter. And his average (and hang times) were not exceptional.

    Now, if we’re talking Raiders that belong in the HOF, but aren’t: Ken Stabler has the best case amoung a list of truly great players. Rich Gannon has a marginal case. Todd Christensen has a good case. Daryle Lamonica has a good case. Cliff Branch has a good case. Jack Tatum who’s been black-balled over the Stingley hit has a great case.

    • Catch Made by Murray

      You lost me at “Rich Gannon has a marginal case.”

  • BobS

    Yale Lary was a football player who could punt and is deservedly in the Hall of Fame.
    Guy was a good punter who got the reputation of being better than he was because of the great Raider teams he played on, which included Stabler and Tatum, who both belong in Canton. Anyone who thinks he belongs in the Hall of Fame needs to point to the year that he was a better player than the ones who got elected

    • bill

      I’d prefer him in the Hall of Fame over Floyd Little, but there are many, many other players I could say that for.

      • BobS

        Jerry Kramer is at the top of my list of players who belong.
        Floyd Little wasn’t exactly surrounded by great, or even good players the years he played in Denver. There are few if any running backs in the Hall of Fame who did as much with as little help.

  • Matt

    How dare you have the heartless effrontery to pronounce that football is a team sport, but that some positions are more equal than others?

    On it’s own, at least, this is a really dumb argument. Of course some positions are more important than others! Should the baseball hall of fame start putting in the best middle relievers? The best LOUGies? What about the best place-holders?

    • John

      A middle reliever (a category of which a loogy is merely a subset) is, by definition, a mediocre pitcher – not good enough to start or close.

      I don’t see how a middle reliever is in any way comparable to a punter in this context – saying that the best middle relievers should be in the hall of fame would be more like saying that the best back-up quarterbacks deserve a place in the Hall.

      • arguingwithsignposts

        saying that the best middle relievers should be in the hall of fame would be more like saying that the best back-up quarterbacks deserve a place in the Hall.

        Except middle relievers actually pitch when someone isn’t injured.

        • It’s more along the lines of saying that someone should get into the HOF as a nickel corner, long snapper or kickoff gunner. These are all important jobs but they’re jobs you get if you’re not talented enough to start.

          • John

            Right, that’s a better comparison.

      • rea

        A middle reliever . . . is, by definition, a mediocre pitcher – not good enough to start or close

        That’s a very old-fashioned view of middle relievers. Nowdays, the closer is a relatively reliable guy who comes in with a clean slate and pitches the 9th. Most teams have one or two middle relievers reserved for crisis situations in the late innings, and those guys are often the teams’ “best” relievers.

        • Uncle Ebeneezer

          Not to mention the “coming in for injured players” claim is also false. It may not be listed as an injury officially, but in many cases the middle reliever is coming in because the starter’s arm is worn out. The injury is just one that heals in 5 days.

        • Sherm

          Nowdays, the closer is a relatively reliable guy

          You surely did not come to that conclusion by watching the Tigers last year.

          • rea

            “Relatively” . . .

  • Thlayli

    How dare you tell a man who devoted his life to perfecting his craft that he’s not worthy of admission among the game’s greatest?

    Huh? Lots of people devote their lives to perfecting their craft. That doesn’t mean they got any good at it.

  • fdchief218

    So now I’m curious, football-moron that I am.

    1. Is “specialty-punter” as a position worthy of HOF selection? I’m hearing arguments for both sides, but I’m sensing that the general consensus is “probably not”.

    2. But assuming the answer to #1 IS yes, is there a player – Guy, or any other punter – that appears to be a consensus Hall-of-famer? Again, I’m getting the impression that the general feeling is that there isn’t anyone in particular; that Guy is about as good as anyone who played the position but that nobody was so good at the position that they’re a lock.

    So what I’m getting from this discussion so far is that most of the people who DO know enough about the game to have an informed opinion feel both that the position of specialty punter isn’t critical enough, and that nobody who played was dominant enough AT the position, to merit serious consideration for the HOF.

    But…am I getting this wrong? Anyone willing to argue for Guy or some other punter based not so much on how much they liked the guy or their impressions of him as a player(not that those aren’t important but just because they are by nature subjectvie…) but based on the metrics of the game?

    • FlipYrWhig

      A baseball comparison might be to the “closer,” which teams just didn’t use to have, so it has taken a long time for HOF voters to embrace the idea that that particular kind of specialist is HOF-worthy rather than a lesser contributor to the team or, really, the sport. It’s the difference between considering Mariano Rivera one of the best relief pitchers in history (he is) vs. one of the best pitchers in history (certainly not, as a sheer matter of innings pitched).

  • FlipYrWhig

    IMHO the nature and quality of the kicking game have changed dramatically (for the better) in recent years — like the idea of hanging the punt so that your own side can down it close to the end zone, rather than just bashing away to kick the ball as far as you can. Guy is almost certainly the best punter of the football equivalent of the dead-ball era. Maybe it’s kind of like how Luis Aparicio used to be considered one of the greatest shortstops of all time.

    • Njorl

      I think the most impressive thing is the way punters can control what the ball does when it lands. Those punts that land on the 2 and die, and those low punts that get by the returner and roll 20 yards, they’re intentional now. They used to be a matter of luck.

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