A total of 52 classes have entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On Saturday afternoon, Raiders legend Ray Guy was first punter to join the exclusive club.
Guy was a seven-time finalist and never got in. A senior selection committee nomination finally pushed him over the edge. Despite voicing frustration following several snubs, Guy played it cool during a 14-minute speech during an induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
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"It’s been long, long overdue, but now the Hall of Fame has a complete team."
In an inspired stand of solidarity, 19 punters came to honor the very best at their position. Ray Guy turned punting into a science worthy of specialization, with hang time and directional punting that made returns nearly impossible.
It also stretched his walk to the Hall of Fame a frustrating 22-year trek.
Once he put on the yellow jacket, Guy was all smiles. He thanked his friends and family during a 14-minute speech. He spoke highly of his parents and his rural upbringing. He lauded the influence of late Raiders owner Al Davis and his entire Raiders family.
Then he spun things forward, hoping a broken barrier will give other deserving punters and chance to enter the Hall.
“Punters, keep the faith,” Guy said “You are an important part of every game.”
Guy played a pivotal role in the Raiders success, including three Super Bowl victories. He said Saturday’s induction ranked right up there with his greatest athletic achievements. He also knows that it will be his last.
“It’s so great to be in the club as exclusive as the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Guy said. “Knowing it’s forever is beyond my wildest dreams.”