Notes: Ray Guy, Michael Strahan headline Hall class

Ray Guy turned punting into a defensive weapon.
Clifton Boutelle/Getty Images/File
Ray Guy turned punting into a defensive weapon.

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 is the first punter elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

‘‘Good things are worth waiting for,’’ Guy said Saturday 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 that 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, were selected.

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Among the finalists who didn’t get in were two with ties to the Colts and current Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning — coach Tony Dungy and receiver Marvin Harrison.

Each incoming Hall of Famer walked to the stage and was announced individually. Strahan, who helped the Giants make two Super Bowls, got a huge cheer from the home crowd.

Induction will be on Aug. 1 in Canton, Ohio.

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.


‘‘It’s gratifying to now see a punter go into the Hall of Fame,’’ Guy said, who joins Jan Stenerud as the only kickers enshrined. ‘‘Whether it was me or somebody else, they needed representation in that position.’’

Seattle drafted Jones with the sixth overall pick in 1997.

‘‘Coming into the league all I wanted to do was get here, and . . . say I could play this game,’’ Jones said. ‘‘For me to be here now, and for my team that I started with and finished with, to be here in the Super Bowl is just like the icing on the cake.’’

Strahan set the NFL record for sacks in a single season, getting 22½ in 2001. The one most people 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.

While there is controversy about that play, the gap-toothed Strahan was one of the top two-way defensive ends. He walked away from the NFL after winning the Super Bowl in February 2008.


‘‘It’s hard to find guys with everything, but this guy had everything: size, speed, power, toughness, endurance, motor, smarts, leadership, heart, love for the game, but what I admired most about Michael was his pride,’’ Giants general manager Jerry Reese said.

The Hall doors finally opened for Humphrey on his 28th year of eligibility and his fifth as a finalist.

‘‘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.’’

Manning is AP MVP

Manning won his fifth Associated Press Most Valuable Player award in a landslide.

Evan Agostini/Invision/Associated Press
Peyton Manning appeared on screen to accept the Most Valuable Player award.

The record-setting QB, who threw for 55 touchdowns and 5,477 yards in leading the Broncos to the AFC’s best record, earned 49 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. New England quarterback Tom Brady got the other vote in balloting.

Manning won his other MVPs with Indianapolis in 2003, ’04, ’08, and ’09. He was the runner-up last season to Adrian Peterson. No one else has won more than three NFL MVP awards.

Also, Manning won his second AP Offensive Player of the Year award, receiving 33 votes. He also won the award in 2004 and was runner-up last year. Running back LeSean McCoy of Philadelphia was second with 10 votes, followed by Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles with four.

Kuechly best defender

Luke Kuechly was voted the AP Defensive Player of the Year, adding the honor to his top defensive rookie award of 2012. Carolina’s All-Pro linebacker received 19 votes. He beat out Indianapolis All-Pro linebacker Robert Mathis, who earned 11½ votes.

Kuechly had 96 tackles for a defense that allowed 241 points, fewer than any team except NFC champ Seattle. He also had four interceptions, two sacks, eight passes defensed, and was a presence from sideline to sideline on the NFL’s No. 2 unit.

Two Seahawks drew support: safety Earl Thomas (7½ votes) and cornerback Richard Sherman (4).

Kuechly was surprised and humbled by the honor.

‘‘You look at the list of guys [up for the award]: Robert Mathis, a sack master, a guy that forced a lot of fumbles,’’ he said. “And obviously, everybody knows about Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas. Those guys are both studs.’’

Rookies are tops

Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy and Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson were voted the top rookies on their respective sides of the ball. A second-round pick (61st overall) from Alabama, Lacy rushed for 1,178 yards on 284 carries (4.1 average), with 11 touchdowns. He also had 35 receptions. Lacy beat out San Diego wide receiver Keenan Allen, who received 12 votes. Richardson, the 13th overall pick in April’s draft on a selection acquired when New York traded star cornerback Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay, won a close race over Buffalo linebacker Kiko Alonso. Richardson received 23 votes; Alonso got 19. Often double-teamed as the season wore on, Richardson made 42 tackles and had 3½ sacks . . . Ron Rivera took the Panthers from also-ran to division champion, earning him Coach of the Year honors. Rivera’s Panthers went 12-4 to take the NFC South and get a first-round playoff bye. They lost to San Francisco in the divisional round. Rivera’s fine work in his third season in charge in Carolina brought him 21½ votes. That outdistanced Kansas City’s Andy Reid, who got 13½ votes. In his first year with the Chiefs, Reid took them from 2-14 to 11-5 and an AFC wild-card berth . . . Philip Rivers’s turnaround season earned him AP’s Comeback Player of the Year award. Rivers led the Chargers to a wild-card playoff spot with four straight victories to close out the schedule, giving them a 9-7 record. He led the league with a 69.5 completion percentage and threw for 32 TDs against 11 interceptions. He received 13 votes. Finishing behind Rivers were Denver running back Knowshon Moreno and Philadelphia left tackle Jason Peters with eight selections apiece . . . Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.