Raiders alum Ray Guy became the first — and still only — punter enshrined in Canton in 2014.
The Ravens’ Sam Koch, who joined the retired player ranks just a few months ago, might very well follow in Guy’s footsteps after the Hall’s mandatory five-year waiting period ends.
Koch was the first punter drafted in 2006 when he was selected by the Ravens. During his NFL career, he was recognized by many coaches and other football personnel for changing the art of punting.
“All the other punters know that Sam changed punting, all the punting coaches know it, and all the people who study the game know it as well,” says Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, who was a special teams assistant before moving to Baltimore in his current role in 2008. “You chase perfection, and you gain excellence and that’s what Sam did the whole time he was with us.”
Koch spent his entire NFL career in Baltimore.
“I am very fortunate to have played 16 years in Baltimore,” Koch said at his retirement ceremony last month. “Everything this organization does is first class. I was born in the small town of Ulysses, Nebraska. It had a population of under 270 people, so we basically lived in the middle of a cornfield. I fell in love early with the sport and I want to thank my high school coaches and teammates for cultivating that passion for playing football that led me to this position 21 years later.”
Ravens special teams coach Randy Brown is one of Koch’s biggest admirers.
“Sam revolutionized the game of football,” says Brown, who worked with Koch since joining the staff in 2008. “He introduced the idea that punters could have different types of punts, as well as have punts designed to place the ball inside the 10-yard line and to keep the ball away from returners. As a whole, every punter in the NFL owes Sam Koch a debt of gratitude for being the pioneer of change on how punting is executed in this league.”
We at NFL Alumni add our congratulations to our newest member and wish Sam Koch, his wife Nicole and their family much success in his post-playing days. Not many punters earn the type of accolades that Sam received when he retired but, then again, very few players at any position manage to stay in the NFL for 16 seasons. Congrats!