Former NFL football player Tom Dempsey died April 4, 2020 at the age of 73 as a result of the Covid-19 virus. The former NFL kicker was also dealing with Alzheimer’s Disease and had been living in an assisted living facility.
While best know for his time with the New Orleans Saints, Dempsey also played with the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, the Houston Oilers, and the Buffalo Bills.
He was signed by the Saints in 1969 as an undrafted player. He went to Palomar College in California as a defensive lineman. He was named to the All Pro team and was a member of the Pro Bowl in his rookie year.
Dempsey set the NFL record for the longest field goal in the league at 63 yards when the Saints played the Detroit Lions on November 8, 1970. Down 17-16, the kick gave the Saints the win with a score of 19-17 and beating the old record by seven yards.. The Saints PA announcer Jerry Romig kept yelling into the microphone, “it’s good!” Dempsey noted that he wasn’t worried about the distance; but rather, making a straight kick.
Later kickers Jason Elam, Sebastian Janikowski, and David Akers all tied the record in later years; and it was finally broken in 2013 by Matt Prater with a 64 yard kick in the thin air of Denver, Colorado.
Kickers often use “special” kicking shoes. Born with no toes on his right foot, Dempsey had a special squared off shoe that some felt gave him an advantage. Dempsey reminded doubters that he made those kick with no toes. He was also born with no fingers on his right hand. However, in 1977 the NFL passed a new rule that was often known as The Dempsey Rule which required special shoes to be the same as a normal shoe.
Dempsey was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1989.
Making his home in New Orleans, Dempsey worked as a salesman for an oil company, coach high school football, and managed a car dealership after retiring from the NFL.
He was born January 12, 194 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Dempsey is survived by his wife Carlene; children Ashley, Meghan, and Toby; sister Janice; and grandchildren Dylan, Logan, and Quinn.
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