(WJBF) – Punting legend and Pro Football Hall of Fame player Ray Guy died Thursday morning at the age of 72.
Guy, who was born in Swainsboro, Georgia, played for the University of Southern Mississippi before becoming the first pure punter in the history of the NFL draft to be picked in the first round. He played with the Raiders (first in Oakland, then in Los Angeles) for the duration of his professional career between 1973 and 1986.
“The Southern Miss family mourns today following the passing of Golden Eagle great Ray Guy, who died Thursday morning following a lengthy illness,” reads an obituary posted by his alma mater.
During his time in the NFL, Guy was named All-Pro eight times — six as a first-team All Pro — and appeared in the Pro Bowl seven times. He also earned three Super Bowl rings with the Raiders, during the 1976, 1980 and 1983 seasons.
After a lengthy wait, he was finally enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014, becoming the first pure punter to ever earn that honor. He’s also a member of the Bay Area, College Football, Southern Miss M-Club, Mississippi, Georgia and National High School Sports Hall of Fames. The Augusta Sports Council, too, gives out the “Ray Guy Award” each year to the best punter in college football.
The NFL, in their announcement of Guy’s passing, called him “the greatest punter in the history of professional football,” highlighting his 619 consecutive punts without a block.
John Madden, the head coach of the Oakland Raiders during Guy’s first years in the NFL, also once said Guy punted “the longest, highest footballs that I had ever seen” during his first-ever practice with the team.
He was “the best that ever played the position,” Madden once remarked, per the NFL.