Tom Dempsey - New Orleans Saints Legends

Tom Dempsey - Kicker - New Orleans Saints Legends

FILE - In this Nov. 8, 1970, file photo, New Orleans Saints' Tom Dempsey (19) moves up to kick a 63-yard field goal as teammate Joe Scarpati holds the ball and Detroit Lions' Alex Karras (71) rushes in while Saints' Bill Cody (66) blocks, in New Orleans. Dempsey, who played in the NFL despite being born without toes on his kicking foot and made a record 63-yard field goal, died late Saturday, April 4, 2020, in New Orleans while struggling with complications from the new coronavirus, his daughter said. He was 73 years old. (AP Photo/File)

Tom Dempsey

COLLEGE: Palomar


BORN: Jan. 12, 1947 in Milwaukee



Tom Dempsey's Career Background

Tom Dempsey was enshrined in the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 1989 after spending 1969-1970 with the team, best known for one of the most memorable plays in franchise history.

Born without toes on his right foot and fingers on his right hand, Dempsey was a resilient kicker who earned his place in NFL record books. He was signed by the San Diego Chargers in 1968 prior to coming to New Orleans in 1969. In his rookie year, Dempsey was named to the Pro Bowl and The Sporting News All-Pro team.

His second year proved to be record-breaking, as he secured his spot in NFL history in a game against the Detroit Lions in Tulane Stadium on Nov. 8, 1970. New Orleans was trailing 17-16 late in the fourth quarter and some fans had departed, but as time expired Dempsey attempted a 63-yard field goal. The ball sailed through the uprights with room to spare, setting an NFL record for the longest field goal while giving the Saints a 19-17 win, one of only two that season. Not only was it a record, but it surpassed the previous record by seven yards. In addition, the 63-yarder was unmatched for 28 years until Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos equaled it in 1998 in the thin air at Mile High Stadium, and it was unbroken for 51 years until Justin Tucker hit a 66-yarder as time expired to win the game for the Baltimore Ravens against the Detroit Lions. In honor of his success in the face of his disability from birth, Dempsey was the 1971 recipient of the Pro Football Writers Association's George Halas Award, given annually to an NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to suceed.

Dempsey saw action in 28 games with the Saints, recording 40 field goals and going 49-of-52 (94.2%) on extra-point attempts, as he established himself as one of the franchise's most popular players in its formative days. In 1971 he went on to play for the Eagles and he played for the Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills before retiring after the 1979 season.

The Milwaukee native settled in New Orleans area after retiring from pro football, working in several business pursuits. In 2020, Dempsey died due to complications from Covid-19.

Dempsey's career honors

The Sporting News All-Pro – 1969

Pro Bowl – 1969

PFWA George Halas Award - 1971

New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame