Thomson mourns favorite son, NFL punting legend Ray Guy

Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 11:42 AM EDT|Updated: Nov. 4, 2022 at 10:27 AM EDT
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THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The Thomson community and Georgia continue to mourn a favorite son, pro football punting legend Ray Guy, who died Thursday.

An eight-time NFL All-Pro and widely considered the greatest punter of all time, he died Thursday morning at age 72 after a lengthy illness.

After starting his football career at Thomson High School, he went on to Southern Miss and spent 14 years with the NFL.

“It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of a Thomson High School football legend. Ray Guy led the Bulldogs to state championships in 1967 and 1968 before playing for the University of Southern Mississippi, and the National Football League’s Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders,” the McDuffie County School System said in a statement.

Patrons will be asked to observe a moment of silence in his honor at Friday night’s Thomson High football game.

Guy was elected to both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With his induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 2, 2014, he became the first pure punter to earn the honor.

Named in his honor, the Augusta Sports Council’s Ray Guy Award recognizes the top college punter every year.

Guy was originally from Swainsboro and went to Thomson High, where he played quarterback, safety, linebacker, and tailback, in addition to kicking and punting.

Ray Guy
Ray Guy(Contributed)

He led Thomson to Georgia Class A state football championships in 1967 and 1968 and was a unanimous All-American selection in 1972 as a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi.

At Southern Miss, he played punter as well as a defensive back from 1968-1972 before being drafted by the then Oakland Raiders in 1973 as the first punter to ever be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. He was the 23rd pick.

Not to be limited to football, Guy was also recognized as one of the best pitchers in the Golden Eagle baseball history, pitching one of only six no-hitters in school history and being drafted three times.

He spent his entire pro-punting career with the Raiders and was chosen to seven Pro Bowl teams.

He was known for punts that stayed airborne for a long time.

During the early part of his career, he was the Raiders’ emergency quarterback, and also occasionally did kickoffs.

The six-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler played in all 207 games during his career from 1973-1986, with all of them being a member of the Raiders while they were in Oakland and Los Angeles. He appeared in three Super Bowls (XI, XV and XVIII), winning them all, which still stands as the most victories by a punter in league history.

Guy holds the Raiders’ record for most career punts (1,049) and led the league three times in gross punt average, along with having 210 punts inside the 20-yard line (not counting his first three seasons where the NFL did not track the stat), with just 128 touchbacks. He finished his career with a streak of 619 consecutive punts without a block.

“The best punter I’ve ever known,” said former Raiders’ head coach and hall of famer John Madden. “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.”

From reports by WRDW/WAGT and WDAM