With the gay marriage amendment defeated during the election in Minnesota earlier this month, outspoken Vikings punter Chris Kluwe has found a new topic on which to opine: Ray Guy’s omission from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The arguments have gone both ways. He revolutionized the punter position. So he should be in. He’s just a punter, so he should stay out. He was great at pinning teams inside the 20 yard line so he should be in. His gross average wasn’t all that great so he should be out. As this Pro Football Reference blog post states, few players’ cases stir “as much passion and disagreement as Ray Guy.”
The topic came up again earlier this week when a Yahoo! Sports story featured the 62-year-old Guy, who now works at Southern Mississippi with former athletes from his alma mater, where he also helps raise funds.
Guy made is in the College Football Hall of Fame and Guy is on the 75th Anniversary Team, which was named in 1994. He is one of just two players on that team not in the Pro Hall, along with Billy “White Shoes” Johnson.
Guy himself, according to the Yahoo story, is angry about not being included, but also can laugh at it. He’s had to correct enough people introducing him at speaking engagements that he’s gotten used to it. “They don’t know. I’m pretty much in every damn Hall of Fame except this one,” he told Yahoo. “I wonder if they have a beer drinking Hall of Fame. I could be in that one too.”
Kluwe called out the selection committee, telling it in the headline to his Deadspin piece that they suck at their jobs. He asks how the members of the committee could dare “tell a man who devoted his life to perfecting his craft that he is not worthy of admission among the game’s greatest?”
He calls them “selfish,” “short-sighted,” “asshole-ish,” “indolent,” “slothful,” “petulant,” “ignorant” and “flat-out stupid” in a rant that not only doesn’t really help his cause but also won’t help win over participants.
But in a more intelligent portion of his message he also accuses the committee of not understanding the complexities of making a football travel 60 yards using a foot and of not understanding another of Guy’s contributions to the game, the concept of hang-time. Kluwe argues: “This is a player who revolutionized his corner of the sport just as much as the coaches and owners in the Hall of Fame changed theirs. And you’re saying in effect that he’s ‘just a kicker,’ he wrote in Deadspin.
Kluwe’s a bit profane at times for my tastes. He’s intelligent enough to make his well-thought and well-researched arguments without the name calling and cursing. Yet there’s something likeable and genuine about the guy too. Unlike a lot of NFL-ers, he seems almost more interested in the rest of the world around him than in the game itself, which I suppose can be a good thing or a bad thing. But he can talk politics or video games, civil and human rights or football.
And he makes a pretty solid case for Guy.
There are Raiders fans who make less than stellar arguments for many non-enshrined former players and coaches, including Jim Plunkett, Tom Flores and Ken Stabler. The case for Guy is stronger and more complex. Does he belong? I can’t say definitively. I haven’t researched it like others have and Guy’s career was just wrapping up as I was getting into football in the early 80s. Sports Illustrated reporter Paul Zimmerman cited several factors in his support for another Bay Area punter, Tommy Davis, as the best of all time.
Zimmerman has seen a helluva lot more football than I have and he watched the two of them through their primes, so his opinion carries weight. But Kluwe, diatribe and all, makes an interesting argument as well.
So where are we now on punters in the Hall? Davis? Guy? Someone else? None of the above? Tell us in the comments.