Tom Dempsey passed away on Saturday at the age of 73 due to complications from the novel coronavirus, according to his family. Dempsey, who kicked for the Saints, Eagles, Rams, Oilers, and Bills over an 11-year career, contracted the virus at the Lambeth House retirement home in New Orleans, where “at least 15 residents” have died from the disease already.
Dempsey kicked for the LA Rams from 1975-1976 under Chuck Knox, helping the team to a 12-2 record in ‘75 and 10-3-1 in ‘76, reaching the NFC Championship both years. He had a career-best 80.8% field goal percentage in ‘75, going 21-of-26, one of a few notable accomplishments throughout his tenure in the league. Dempsey was born without fingers on his right hand or toes in his right foot, his flat-front kicking shoe now displayed in the Hall of Fame.
The New Orleans Saints gave him a tryout and in 1969 he became a 22-year-old rookie NFL kicker who made the Pro Bowl and All-Pro rosters after going 22-of-41 with a long of 55 — the longest made field goal in the NFL that season. He never made another Pro Bowl, but in 1970, Dempsey’s 63-yard field goal was the longest made attempt in history and stood until Matt Prater was good from 64 in 2013.
Dempsey then kicked for the Philadelphia Eagles from 1971-1974, again kicking the league’s longest field goal in ‘71, this one from 54 yards. Dempsey joined the Rams in ‘75, then spent five games with the Houston Oilers before finishing his career with the Buffalo Bills.
According to his family’s report, Dempsey was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 25. His family will arrange for a larger memorial service once it is safer to do so, per his daughter Ashley.