Tom Dempsey, a longtime NFL kicker who set a league record for longest kick that wasn’t eclipsed until 2013, has died after a battle with the coronavirus, his family told The New Orleans Times-Picayune/Advocate. He was 73.
Dempsey tested positive for COVID-19 last month following an outbreak at the senior center where he lived in New Orleans, according to his daughter Ashley Dempsey.
Ashley Dempsey told The Times-Picayune/Advocate that her family was unable to be with her father — who had been battling Alzheimer’s disease and dementia — as his condition worsened because residents of the center he was in were in quarantine.
She told the paper that the family did video chats with him because “we didn’t want him to think we had abandoned him. We wanted him to know we still loved him — always.”
The Times-Picayune/Advocate reported at least 15 residents of the Lambeth House center, including Tom Dempsey, have died after battles with COVID-19. New Orleans has been one of the U.S. cities most impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to date.
Tom Dempsey spent just two seasons with the Saints, but he became a New Orleans and NFL legend on Nov. 8, 1970, when he connected on a 63-yard field goal that gave the Saints a victory over the Detroit Lions. It wasn’t equaled until 1998, and it wasn’t surpassed until Broncos kicker Matt Prater booted a 64-yarder in Denver in 2013.
Dempsey was born without toes on his right foot — which he kicked with — and was missing part of his right hand. But he carved out an 11-season career, starting with the Saints in 1969 and moving to the Eagles, Rams, Oilers and Bills.
Contributing: Steve Gardner