NFL Urban Legends: Ray Guy and the Helium PuntBy Mike Tanier ,
The 1970s Raiders were mythologized in their own time as rowdy bikers who studied their playbooks by the jukebox light on Saturday night and did everything short of bringing loaded weapons on the field on Sunday afternoon. Nearly 40 years after their heyday, it’s hard to sift the facts from the purple storytelling.
What’s certain is that there was no love lost between those Raiders and their many rivals, most of whom suspected that there wasn’t a rule in the book that Al Davis‘ team would not bend. Even Ray Guy, the NFL’s first superstar specialist punter and a straight man in the Raiders circus, wasn’t above suspicion.
When Guy’s booming punts caught another legendarily wacky 1970s team by surprise, hijinks—and an Urban Legend—ensued.
The legend: Ray Guy used a helium-filled football against the Oilers in 1977, prompting an early Deflategate not long after Watergate made every scandal a “-gate.”
What we know: This old saw came back to life recently thanks to Deflategate and earlier Guy’s 2014 selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.