Punters in the NFL are the butt of a lot of jokes. A lot of fans don't see them as valuable members of the team—and the voters who are responsible for the enshrinement of players in the Hall of Fame are no exception.
Ray Guy, a first-round pick of the Raiders in the 1973 NFL draft, was a seven-time Pro Bowler and chosen as the punter on the NFL’s 75th anniversary team. He is upset that the voters and media do not appreciate the job that punters do in the NFL.
Ray Guy is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and neither is any other punter. There probably will never be. Guy spoke of his frustration, saying (via Yahoo Sports):
“I watch them and in the back of my mind I know you’re wasting your time because we got some stupid people who don’t understand. Here’s a kid who’s got a dream of being a punter in the NFL, but you got people here who cut him down before they even get out of the chute. So what are you telling these kids? To forget about it? I guess it all stems around people just don’t understand the importance of a punter. They really don’t. Unless you played. You have to be in there. You have to understand every player on that team has a position or play to do. And all they do is drag and fuss about ‘well yeah he can punt and this and that and the other thing,’ but they don’t really respect that and they think it shouldn’t be alongside the other guys in the Hall of Fame.”
No one taught Guy how to be a punter. He taught himself to be a valuable weapon to his team. His ability to punt the ball high in the air and give his coverage team a chance to get down field eliminated returns. He was also one of the first punters to consistently punt the ball out of bounds inside the 20-yard line.
An argument can be made for both sides. A punter like Guy or current Raiders punter Shane Lechler are real weapons. They can pin opponents deep and make life hard for the opposition's offenses.
However, should a punter be put in Canton before a tight end, quarterback or receiver who played a much bigger percentage of snaps?
In my opinion, I would let a player like Guy in. He changed the position and his mark on the game should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Nobody is arguing that every punter should get Canton consideration, but certainly the best to ever play the position should.
"He changed the game, really," said former Raiders coach Tom Flores. "It was never a glamorous position until he came along."
What do you think? Should Guy be in the Hall of Fame? Should there be some sort of exception made for punters so voters do not feel guilty putting them in Canton? Let us know in the comments below.