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franklin county times

Everyone slips up once in a while

By By Stan Torgerson
sports columnist
There isn't a football play-by-play announcer in the world, NFL, SEC, or any other conference, who hasn't stuck his foot in his mouth. I often think of Jim, my barber during my years in Memphis who hung a sign on his wall saying, "Do not engage mouth until brain is in gear." Sometimes in calling a ball game, exciting or otherwise, your brain can slip out of gear while your mouth is still engaged, running merrily along.
Reading that Ray Guy was being inducted into the National High School Hall of Fame this week reminded me of a moment I remember as vividly as any other in the nearly 200 Ole Miss games I had the privilege of calling.
I'm often asked who was the greatest player I ever saw. Georgia's Herschel Walker was the greatest running back. LSU's Tommy Casanova, the greatest secondary player. Archie Manning of course was the premier quarterback of my time. Lou Michaels of Kentucky was the most dominating defensive lineman. But Ray Guy of Southern Mississippi was certainly the greatest kicker and possibly the best pure athlete of them all. He also caused my all-time attack of foot-in-the-mouth disease.
It was Sept. 30, 1972 at Oxford. Southern Mississippi was giving the Rebels everything they wanted and the main reason was Guy's punting. It didn't matter whether he was kicking from the 40, the 50, wherever. He had the Rebels pinned deep in their own backyard all afternoon.
Late in the game the Rebs had pushed Southern deep into their own territory. The Golden Eagles had the ball on their own 7 yard line, fourth down.
At that point my brain slipped out of gear.
In retrospect my wife should have washed out my mouth with soap.
I pulled the actual tape of that broadcast this morning and relived the moment. I'll let it speak for itself. This is what my listeners heard.
Midway through that call I wasn't announcing any more. I was shouting, the volume going up higher and higher with literally every word. At that point I sat back, stunned, and let the crowd take over the broadcast with their cheers.
Guy's 93-yard kick ranks with the greatest individual achievements I've ever seen in a college football game. It may well be the greatest of them all.
The Rebels won the game 13-9. It was close only because of one man, Ray Guy in my book the greatest college kicker of all time.
Guy has won many awards in his years as a college football player at Southern and later as a result of his career in the National Football League. He is considered by most as the best who ever played the punter's position at that level of competition as well.
I don't know much about his high school career, but reading the reasons for this latest recognition he must have been something very special to watch.
What I do know is he is a great athlete who gave me one of my greatest thrills as a football broadcaster. And one of my most embarrassing moments as well, along with a reason for remembering Jim's very good advice. Never engage mouth until brain is in gear. Take it from someone who knows.

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