Ray Guy, legendary NFL punter, dead at 72

Ray Guy is regarded as one of the best punters of all-time

Ray Guy, a Hall of Fame punter who won three Super Bowls with the Raiders (first in Oakland, then in Los Angeles) during his career, has died, his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, announced Thursday. He was 72.

The Oakland Raiders' decision in 1973 made Guy the first-ever punter to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft when they chose him No. 23 overall. He went on to make the Pro Bowl seven times and was a First-Team All-Pro selection three times.

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Former NFL punter Ray Guy gives his speech during the NFL Class of 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 2, 2014.

Former NFL punter Ray Guy gives his speech during the NFL Class of 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, on Aug. 2, 2014. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

"The Southern Miss family mourns today following the passing of Golden Eagle great Ray Guy, who died Thursday morning following a lengthy illness," the school said in a news release.

Guy is considered to be one of the greatest punters of all-time as he spent 14 seasons with the Raiders. He pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard line 210 times during his career. He received a great compliment from his former head coach John Madden during Guy’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2014.

Ray Guy of the Oakland Raiders punts the ball during an NFL game circa 1980.

Ray Guy of the Oakland Raiders punts the ball during an NFL game circa 1980. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

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"The first time I laid eyes on him is when we first brought him to practice. And he started to punt, and he punted the longest, highest footballs that I had ever seen," Madden said at the time, via NFL.com. "And I said, 'OK, that's enough.' You know, I didn't want to tire his leg out or have him get injured. And he said 'Coach, I'm just warming up.' And I thought 'Holy moly, just warming up?' And I knew right then, at that moment, that he was going to be special."

Pro Football Talk noted that Guy’s prowess on the field caused controversy. In 1976, Houston Oilers prolific returner Billy "White Shoes" Johnson and Guy agreed to have the ball examined, and a test at Rice University cleared the punter of wrongdoing.

Ray Guy of the Los Angeles Raiders punts the ball during an NFL game against the Washington Redskins at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 2, 1983.

Ray Guy of the Los Angeles Raiders punts the ball during an NFL game against the Washington Redskins at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 2, 1983. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

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When his career was over, Guy was named to the NFL’s All-1970s team, the NFL 75th Anniversary and 100th Anniversary All-Time teams and has an award named after him to give to the NCAA’s best punter.