The Oakland Raiders are a franchise with a lot of history and have been known to be stubborn in its ways throughout that history. When most people think of stereotypes about the Raiders, they often go with crazy fans or obsession with speed. But one aspect of Raider tradition that is often forgotten was Al Davis’ love of good kickers.
Everyone knows about how Davis took Sebastian Janikowski in the first round of the 2000 NFL draft. Shocking as that was, Davis went on to take a punter in the fifth round with Shane Lechler, dedicating two of his draft picks to positions that more often than not go undrafted.
But Davis’ obsession with the kicking game did not start with Seabass and Lechler. Back in 1973, Davis made Ray Guy the first, and only, punter to be drafted in the first round when the Raiders took him with the 23rd overall pick. What happened after that pick is NFL history.
Guy went on to collect seven Pro Bowl appearances, six First-Team All-Pro selections and two Second-Team All-Pro selections. He also appeared in three Super Bowls and is widely considered the greatest punter ever. He finished his career with an impressive 42.4-yard average distance on his punts and many believe the NFL added the “hang time” stat because of Guy.
Since retiring, Guy has been nominated to the Pro Football Hall of Fame seven different times, but was never voted in. Now, Guy has what is likely his best shot at getting into the HOF after being nominated by the senior committee. Traditionally, members nominated by the committee are almost always get into the HOF.
There will still be those who argue a pure punter should not be put in the Hall of Fame, but that stance is simply illogical. Both punters and kickers play very important roles in the NFL and, put plainly, the game cannot be played without them. The Pro Football Hall of Fame should included the greatest players in the history of the game, regardless of what position they played.