Just the Guy for the job: Raiders legend producing pros
As a Raiders punter, Ray Guy helped redefine the position. More than 20 years after his NFL career ended, his teaching skills have helped produce many current pro stars.
Former Oakland Raiders kicker Ray Guy, in his Georgia drawl, prefers to talk about dogs, horses or his yard work. His career as maybe the greatest punter in NFL history might be the fourth topic of any conversation.
Ask whether he belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Guy will allow his credentials to speak for themselves:• A 2007 HOF finalist, he sported a 42.4-yard career average spanning 14 seasons (1973-86).
"One punt can determine who wins a game. I can remember times when I pinned an opponent deep in their own territory and we won because of it. Field position is important both for an offense and defense," said Guy, who also handled kickoffs for the Raiders. "It's also important that a punter knows how to kick out of bounds so he does not allow a big return."
Guy's new position still will allow him to run his two-day punting camps. The camps are now in their 13th year and usually are conducted during the summer.Guy is so busy that recently he had to drive his truck from Memphis to Dallas to Oklahoma City in a week's time to conduct some of his 30 camps. Still, to many in this generation of campers, Guy is a mere teacher at first. "A lot of kids at the camps might not have heard of Ray Guy," said Rick Sang, the camp director for ProKicker.com. " Sometimes the parents are more intrigued than the kids. Ray has needed to reinvent himself for today's culture."
Check out the top of the NFL's punting rankings this week and whose names do you see? The top three positions are owned by graduates of Ray Guy's kicking camps. The Rams' Donnie Jones and the 49ers' Andy Lee are tied for the overall lead, each averaging 50.0 yards per punt. A fraction behind is Shane Lechler (49.9), who has Guy's old job as the Raiders' punter.
-- William Bendetson
Detroit Lions punter Nick Harris also trained with Guy and has served as a camp instructor. Harris still offers to work at Guy's camp for no compensation. Guy calls Harris the modern-day version of himself, as Harris, like Guy, is known for his hang time.
Harris first heard about Guy's program when he was a freshman at the University of California. Guy's overall message resonated with Harris: Good punting is not about having the most power, but rather about adapting your punts to a particular game situation. Hang time and location are just as important as distance.Guy teaches his students how to "pooch punt" and how to punt out of their own end zone when they have only 10 yards instead of 15 between themselves and the line of scrimmage. Guy also uses video to show students how they can improve. "He doesn't believe in a cookie-cutter model. He tries to understand what each person can do and then makes adjustments to their technique, " Harris said. "Punting is the same as hitting in that film study is so important. It is one thing to tell someone something, but it is another thing to show them on film what they can do better. When I grew up everyone would say 'Ray Guy this' or 'Ray Guy that.' He was one of the guys you kind look up to when you are in the punting community."
William Bendetson covers pro football for ESPN.com.
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