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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

    • Hall of Famer Tony Oliva
      July 17, 2022 | 2:15 pm
      Tony Oliva

      After waiting for 45 years after his retirement, the Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is finally taking his rightful place as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      Before injuries cut short his Hall of Fame worthy career, Tony Oliva was one of the best hitters in baseball and combined with Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Harmen Killebrew to make the Minnesota Twins a perennial American League contender during the late 1960s.

      Discovered on the baseball fields of Cuba by a Minnesota Twin scout, Oliva came to the United States in 1961 and within three years the American League Rookie of the Year. There have been many great MLB players from Cuba, including a new generation of stars today, but it is hard to argue that there has been a better player from the island in MLB than Oliva.

      Read more »

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