Ray Guy still is receiving recognition for his exceptional punting career in the National Football League. But it isn't coming in terms of being enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame this year.
Instead, Guy's latest honor is coming from the newly created American Football Kicking Hall of Fame, which inducted him into its second class at The Augusta Chronicle and WJBF News/Channel 6 All-Area Football Banquet in Augusta last Thursday night. Guy, who was an outstanding football and baseball player at Thomson High School before going on to play the same two sports at Southern Mississippi University, accepted the honor from his longtime friend, Rick Sang.
"Ray deserves this honor more than any one person that I know," Sang said while visiting Thomson earlier this year for a ProKicker.com football camp. "He's the greatest punter ever. I hope someday that he's finally inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame."
Guy is one of the newest members to be inducted into the second class of the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame. The idea to honor the legendary 59-year-old Guy, who played professional football for 14 years with the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, was the brainchild of Sang, director of ProKicker.com - a special kicking camp that travels around the country helping young punters, kickers and long snappers to become better.
The Greater Augusta Sports Council teamed with ProKicker.com to establish the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame. Last year, the first class of inductees was announced.
Last year, five men were inducted into the first class of the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame. They included: Sammy Baugh, George Blanda, Lou Groza, Jan Stenerud and Jim Thorpe.
Guy's former high school football coach, Paul Leroy, who lives in Thomson and serves as an instructor with ProKicker.com, contends that it is "a shame" that Guy has never been enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame.
"It appears that the only way he's ever going to get into the NFL Hall of Fame is if some of those old sports writers simply die," Coach Leroy told The McDuffie Mirror during a recent interview. "Ray has been treated very unfairly, in my opinion. I hope I'm living to see him finally get inducted into that hall of fame, someday."
Aside from professional and college football players, others, such as high school coaches or someone who has contributed greatly to promoting football, also can earn the distinction of being enshrined into the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame.
During the awards banquet, a number of area football players, including some from Thomson, Warren County and Briarwood Academy, also were honored and had the opportunity to meet Guy and other celebrities there. The local players included:
Thomson High School's Darius Eubanks, Will Anderson and Lonnie Harris, Jr.;
Warren County's Jonathan Lewis; and Briarwood Academy's Nick Dawson and Trey Stadler.
It also was a time to pay special recognition to the Ray Guy Award recipient, Matt Fodge, the punter from Oklahoma State, who received the nation's top punter honor this past season. He averaged 42.9 yards a punt during the 2008 season.