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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.

Read the rest of this entry →

40 Years Ago: Tom Dempsey’s 63-Yard Field Goal 8

Posted on November 06, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Tom Dempsey gave the Saints an improbable victory with his field goal 40 years ago.

The New Orleans Saints didn’t have a lot to celebrate during their first two decades in the NFL, but they did enjoy one special moment 40-years ago this week when their improbable kicker made a seemingly impossible kick to defeat the Detroit Lions 19-17 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. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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