Tom Dempsey, a legendary NFL kicker who is best known for a spectacular game-winning field goal, died Saturday from complications from the coronavirus.
Dempsey, who was born without toes on his right foot and without fingers on his right hand, was able to excel as an NFL kicker with the help of specially-designed shoes.
As for the legendary kick, it went down in 1970. Dempsey was the kicker for the New Orleans Saints when they played the Detroit Lions, and he shattered the field goal record by 7 yards, propelling it 63 yards. The record has since been matched by 5 kickers and it was shattered — actually more like broken — by Denver Bronco kicker Matt Prater in 2013, when he scored a field goal from 64 yards.
Dempsey also played for the Eagles, the Rams, the Oilers and the Bills during his 11-year career.
The Saints said, “The New Orleans Saints family is deeply saddened and heartbroken at this most difficult time. Tom’s life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations.” He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humor.”
As for how Dempsey contracted the virus … he was living in a New Orleans retirement home where 15 patients have died from the disease. Louisiana has really gone through it … more than 12,400 confirmed cases. New Orleans, where many contracted the virus during Marti Gras, has had 153 deaths so far.
Dempsey grew up in CA and played football at Palomar College in SoCal. After calling it quits with the Saints, he became an oilfield salesman, and later became a high school football coach and a car dealership manager.
Dempsey had been battling dementia for years.
He’s survived by his wife and 3 kids.
Dempsey was 73.