NFL

After long wait, Ray Guy is first punter in Hall of Fame

By ASSOCIATED PRESS  • 
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Above: Ray Guy Below: Luke Kuechly

NEW YORK — The hang time is over for Ray Guy. The longtime punter for the Oakland Raiders is all by himself once again.

After waiting 23 years, Guy became the first punter elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Good things are worth waiting for,” Guy said last night after being elected along with six other players. “It’s just a matter of time when it will show up. And I knew it would, sooner or later. It had to, whether it was me or somebody down the road. But sooner or later, it had to show up, because (punting) is a part of a football game.”

Defensive end Michael Strahan, receiver Andre Reed, defensive back Aeneas Williams and defensive end Claude Humphrey also were part of the class of 2014. Two first-time eligible players, linebacker Derrick Brooks and offensive tackle Walter Jones, also were selected.

Induction will be on Aug. 1 in Canton.

Guy turned the punting job into a defensive weapon after he became the first player at his position to be selected in the first round of the draft in 1973. He made “hang time” part of the football vernacular while playing all of his 207 games in 14 seasons with the Raiders. He and Jan Stenerud are the only kickers enshrined.

Brooks was the cornerstone of a Bucs defense that led the league in 2002 and 2005. He was Associated Press defensive player of the year when Tampa Bay won its only Super Bowl after the 2002 season. The linebacker never missed a game in his 14 seasons and averaged a remarkable 146 tackles.

Seattle moved up to the No. 6 spot in the 1997 draft to take Jones. He immediately provided blindside protection for Warren Moon and quickly became the first Seahawks lineman to earn a Pro Bowl spot.

Strahan set the NFL record for sacks in a season, getting 221/2 in 2001. The one most remember is the record-setter in the final game of the regular season, when Green Bay’s Brett Favre seemed to lay down on a play late in the game.

Reed came out of little Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and played his first 15 seasons with Buffalo, getting to four Super Bowls but never winning one. His final season was with Washington. His 951 career receptions are third in league history.

A walk-on at Southern University, Williams was a shutdown cornerback in his 14 NFL seasons, the first 10 with the Cardinals and last four with the Rams. He had 55 career interceptions.

The Hall of Fame doors finally opened for Humphrey on his 28th year of eligibility and his fifth as a finalist. The durable six-time Pro Bowl pick had 122 career sacks in 14 seasons with the Falcons and Eagles, who acquired him after a brief retirement in the 1978 season.

“I never really gave up hope,” said Humphrey, whose only regret was his wife died in July and didn’t get to see his election. “I always figured there was a place for me here.”

 

Hall of Fame inductees

LB Derrick Brooks

1995-2008, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

P Ray Guy

1973-1986, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders

DE Claude Humphrey

1968-1981, Atlanta Falcons,

Philadelphia Eagles

OT Walter Jones

1997-2008, Seattle Seahawks

WR Andre Reed

1985-2000, Buffalo Bills,

Washington Redskins

DE Michael Strahan

1993-2007, New York Giants

DB Aeneas Williams

1991-2004, Phoenix/Arizona

Cardinals, St. Louis Rams

Associated Press awards

• MVP: QB Peyton Manning,

Denver Broncos

• Coach of the year: Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers

• Offensive player of the year: Manning

• Defensive player of the year:

LB Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers

• Offensive rookie of the year:

RB Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers

• Defensive rookie of the year:

DT Sheldon Richardson,

New York Jets

• Comeback player of the year:

QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

• Walter Payton man of the year: DB Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears

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