AUGUSTA, Ga. - One of Thomson's most famous residents - Ray Guy - admitted that it was one of the best times that he has had in his life in a long time.
He was referring to the Annual Greater Augusta Sports Awards Gala 16th Annual Celebration, which honors him and the nation's top collegiate punter that was held last Friday night at Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites.
"It was a blast," exclaimed Guy, who was the starting punter for 14 years with the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders. "I had a great time. It was super to see a lot of the guys who played ball when I played."
One of the players that Guy was speaking about was former Raiders' quarterback Jim Plunkett, who went on to become a legend in the NFL after winning the Heisman and Maxwell trophies during his senior year at Stanford University. Plunkett, now 60, was selected in the first-round of the NFL draft in 1971 by the New England Patriots.
"I had a lot of fun seeing Jim for the second time this year," said Guy during an interview with The McDuffie Mirror. "When we played with the Raiders, we got along real well. He was a great player."
During the banquet, Plunkett, who was named Most Valuable Player for his role in helping the Raiders to win Super Bowl XV, called himself lucky to have played with Ray Guy.
"Ray was an amazing punter," said Plunkett. "I was a very lucky guy to have played with him."
While addressing an estimated 150 people during the banquet, Plunkett shared several stories about his days with the Raiders. He also pointed out that during the Raiders' many years of success on the gridiron that the team posted an incredible 21-1 mark while playing on ABC's Monday Night Football.
Another story, which drew a lot of laughter from the crowd, including several special invited guests " U.S. Army soldiers from nearby Fort Gordon " was the time when Ray Guy nearly had to enter a Raiders' game as quarterback.
"Ray was waiting on the sidelines and scared to death," joked Plunkett of the possibility that he might have to enter the game because of an injury to Mark Wilson.
The joke brought a big smile to the face of Guy, who sat at the head table along with his wife, Beverly, a paraprofessional in special education at Thomson High School. The couple's children, Ryan and Amber, also attended the banquet.
Guy, who again this year was nominated for the NFL Hall of Fame, but didn't get the votes needed to get into the shrine, provided what Plunkett described as "crucial" punts at the time when the Raiders needed them " not at the times the team didn't need such booming punts.
"If you needed a crucial punt, Ray always came through," said Plunkett during an interview prior to the banquet. "We, as a team, could always count on Ray. He was a different kind of play-maker for us."
Plunkett pointed out that the collegiate punter award of the year couldn't be named after a more deserving player than Ray Guy.
Plunkett went on to say that he was thankful for the opportunities that he had to play football and told a number of young athletes at the banquet that by working hard and persevering that they too had a chance to become successful in sports if that's what they really wanted.
"Things weren't always easy, though," noted Plunkett. "I had to stick it out and prove to others that I had what it took to be a professional football player."
Later Durant Brooks, the former sensational punter from Georgia Tech, was honored as the recipient of this year's Ray Guy Award for College Punter of The Year. Brooks recently became the only punter selected in the NFL Draft. He now plays with the Washington Redskins.
He is the son of LuAnne Durant of Warrenton and Paul Brooks of Macon " both of whom also attended this year's gala in Augusta.
The Ray Guy Award for College Punter of The Year is an annual event sponsored by the Greater Augusta Sports Council and is featured on national television by ESPN Sports.
Also, during this year's sports banquet in Augusta, the Inaugural Induction of the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame became a reality with several legendary NFL Hall of Fame members being enshrined.
Those receiving such recognition included Sammy Baugh, George Blanda Lou Groza, Jan Stenerud and Jim Thorpe.