RIP Tom Dempsey

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Dead at 73 from complications of Covid-19.

https://www.neworleanssaints.com/news/new-orleans-saints-legend-tom-dempsey-dies-at-73
I can still remember exactly where I was the day I learned he kicked the NFL record field goal. I was driving into Philadelphia with my father to see the Flyers game that night, and I had the radio turned to WCAU to get the sports news. As they were running down the football scores, the announcer casually mentioned that "Tom Dempsey kicked a 63 yard field goal as time expired to give the New Orleans Saints a 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions ..."

I turned to my dad and said "Did he just say that someone kicked a 63 yard field goal?" My father said "You misheard it. He said 53." And in those pre-internet days, I didn't find out that he had, in fact, set a new NFL record until we got the paper the next morning.

Here's a video that replays the last minute of the game and demonstrates how absurd the notion seemed at the time. (Don Criqui was incredulous that they were even attempting the field goal.)


RIP.
 

mwonow

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All the more impressive because the goalposts were on the goal line, meaning that Dempsey was kicking from inside his own 40
 

Ferm Sheller

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All the more impressive because the goalposts were on the goal line, meaning that Dempsey was kicking from inside his own 40
Are you making a joke, or do I just not understand your point? Isn't 63 yards, 63 yards?
 

cornwalls@6

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I was a very young kid, living in the DC suburbs at the time, but vividly remember either watching live, or seeing a same day replay, with my dad and brothers in our basement TV room. I remember there was some controversy about his foot disability/shoe, somehow being an unfair advantage, and that the kick should have an asterisk. Which I always thought was absurd. A few others tied him, but amazing that it took 43 years for it to ultimately be broken, by one yard, in the thin air of mile high(Matt Prater). Dempsey's kick still feels like the one most people remember. RIP.
 

E5 Yaz

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The NFL has seldom looked worse than it did when it instituted what became known as the "Tom Dempsey Rule":

"Any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe."
 

mauf

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Not old enough to remember the play, but I saw the replay many times on “Alcoa’s Fantastic Finishes,” which ran during the 2-minute warning of many NFL games during the early 1980s. Dempsey’s FG was the best of the bunch, and that’s saying something. They didn’t dwell on Dempsey’s disability but did show a shot of his special shoe; my parents explained the rest.

Amazing to think he kicked a ball that far the old-fashioned way — every other 60+ yard FG in NFL history was kicked soccer-style.

Sad that his health had gone so far downhill in recent years. Early-onset dementia among former NFL players is sadly not unusual, but as a kicker, Dempsey’s illness was probably not football-related.

RIP.
 

Humphrey

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The Lions were more worried about roughing the guy or going offside than trying to put any pressure on him. That was one of Detroit's better teams, IIRC.
 

jaytftwofive

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And I believe Joe Scarpatti, (I think that's how you spell it) was his holder. No.21. He had a stint with the Eagles and there is a famous video of him where he attempts a field goal and it either squibbs or hits the line and you see him grab his helmet in disgust and embarrassment.
 

jaytftwofive

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The Lions were more worried about roughing the guy or going offside than trying to put any pressure on him. That was one of Detroit's better teams, IIRC.
Yes they finished 10-4 and lost to the Cowboys 5-0. Yes 5-0 in the first year the NFL/NFC had 4 teams in the playoffs. Even if they win that game they finish 11-3 and still would have had to play the Cowboys I think because the Lions were the Wild Card(Vikes finished 12-2 and won division)
 

rsmith7

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Jul 18, 2005
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I've been wondering who the referee was? I'm thinking Jim Tunney, but I haven't found a box score that lists officials.
Never mind found an article confirming that it was Tunney.