Former New Orleans Saints kicker Tom Dempsey, who famously made a 63-yard field goal in 1970 despite being born without toes on his right kicking foot, has died due to complications with coronavirus, his family told NOLA.com. He was 73.
Dempsey had been battling Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and was a resident at the Lambeth House senior living center in New Orleans, which has been hit hard by the outbreak of the virus. More than 50 residents have been affected, according to NOLA.com.
Dempsey made his legendary 63-yard field goal in New Orleans’ Tulane Stadium to come from behind and beat the Detroit Lions 19-17 in the final seconds. It was the longest kick in NFL history for 28 years until the Denver Broncos’ Jason Elam became the first to match it in 1998. The Broncos’ Matt Prater then broke the record with a 64-yarder in 2013.
The Saints’ extended family has been affected in multiple ways by the coronavirus. Coach Sean Payton tested positive last month before saying he was cleared last week. Also, the father of former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert last week the age of 81 after testing positive for coronavirus.
Undrafted out of Palomar College in San Marcos, California, in 1969, Dempsey also played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills before retiring in 1979. He made the Pro Bowl and was named a First-Team All-Pro in his rookie season with the Saints.
Inducted as a member of the Saints’ hall of fame in 1989, Dempsey finished with a 61.6 percentage on field goals, 89.4 percent on extra points.
The modified shoe he kicked with is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in an exhibit that chronicles the first century of professional football.