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Ex-NFL kicker, Saints hero Tom Dempsey dies at 73

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.
Credit: New Orleans Saints

Former NFL kicker Tom Dempsey, who played despite being born without toes on his kicking foot, has died after testing positive for the coronavirus. He was 73. 

Dempsey set an NFL record that stood for 43 years when he kicked a 63-yard, game-winning field goal for the New Orleans Saints against Detroit on Nov. 8, 1970. It wasn’t until 2013 that Matt Prater of the Broncos broke that record with a 64-yarder in Denver.  

Dempsey was born in Milwaukee without four fingers on his right hand and without toes on his right foot. He kicked straight on with a flat-front shoe that drew protests from some who saw the specially made kicking shoe as an unfair advantage.  

Dempsey spent 11 seasons in the NFL. His first two seasons, 1969 and 1970, were with New Orleans. The next four were with Philadelphia, then two with the Los Angeles Rams, one with the Houston Oilers and the final two with Buffalo. He retired after the 1979 season and moved back to New Orleans.  

His daughter says Dempsey died late Saturday while struggling with complications from the coronavirus. Ashley Dempsey said Sunday that her father has resided in an assisted living home for several years after being diagnosed with dementia. She said he tested positive for COVID-19 a little more than a week ago.  

The Orleans Parish coroner has yet to release an official cause of death.