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Sports Then and Now



Coronavirus Claims Life of Record Setting Kicker Tom Dempsey 1

Posted on April 05, 2020 by Dean Hybl

Sad news from the sports world with the death of former record-setting place kicker Tom Dempsey due to the coronavirus.  Dempsey passed away Saturday at age 73.

Though Dempsey spent a decade in the NFL, he is best remembered for his improbable 63-yard field goal in the final seconds against the Detroit Lions on November 8, 1970.

Even during an era when straight-on kickers were still the majority in the NFL, Tom Dempsey was not your pro-typical NFL player.  Dempsey was 6-foot-2, but weighed more than 250 pounds. He also was born without fingers on his right hand or toes on his right foot.

Nonetheless, Dempsey played football at Palomar Community College in San Diego and then somehow found his way into the NFL with the New Orleans Saints.

As a rookie in 1969, Dempsey earned first-team All-Pro honors and appeared in the Pro Bowl while ranking fifth in league with 99 points. He led the NFL with 41 field goal attempts and was third in the league with 22 successful attempts.

In 1970 Dempsey and the Saints were struggling when they hosted Detroit in week eight. Dempsey had converted only five field goals through the first seven games and the Saints were 1-5-1 on the season.

Just days before the game against the Lions, who entered the game with a 5-2 record, head coach Tom Fears had been fired and replaced by J.D. Roberts.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
      January 29, 2022 | 4:43 pm
      Larry Csonka

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

      With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

      Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

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