NEW ORLEANS - Tom Dempsey, a retired NFL kicker long known for a 63-yard field goal he kicked in 1970, died Saturday night in Louisiana after a bout with coronavirus, according to reports. He was 73.
Dempsey contracted the virus in March while a resident of the Lambeth House retirement home in New Orleans, where at least 15 patients have died after being stricken with the virus, NOLA.com reported.
As of early Sunday, Louisiana had more than 12,400 confirmed cases of the virus, ranking No. 5 among U.S. states. The New Orleans area has recorded 153 deaths.
Dempsey, who was born without toes on his right foot and without fingers on his right hand, wore a specially made shoe during his NFL career.
His history-making kick for the New Orleans Saints against the Detroit Lions broke the previous NFL record by seven yards. It has since been matched by five kickers – and broken only by Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos, who kicked a 64-yarder in 2013.
At the time, Dempsey’s kick helped gain publicity for the Saints, who were then an expansion club playing in only their fourth season.
Dempsey played two seasons for the team, moving on to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills in an 11-year professional career.
Born in Milwaukee, Dempsey grew up in California and played college football at Palomar College near San Diego. He signed with the Saints as an undrafted player in 1969.
After retiring from football, Dempsey and his family returned to New Orleans, where he worked as an oilfield salesman, a high school football coach and a car-dealership manager, NOLA.com reported.
In 2012, he disclosed he was battling dementia, the news outlet reported.
Dempsey is survived by a wife, three children, a sister and three grandchildren, NOLA.com reported.