Tom Dempsey dies after COVID-19 battle

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Only four days ago came word that Tom Dempsey had recovered from COVID-19. The good news was short lived.

The former NFL kicker died late Saturday of complications from the coronavirus, the Times-Picayne reports. Dempsey was 73.

Dempsey had battled Alzheimer’s disease and dementia since 2012. He was one of several residents of a senior living facility in New Orleans to contract COVID-19, testing positive March 25.

At least 15 residents at the Lambeth House retirement home in Uptown New Orleans have died from the coronavirus, according to the Times-Picayune.

Dempsey becomes at least the second former NFL player to die after contracting COVID-19. Orlando McDaniel, who played three games for the Broncos in 1982, died last week. McDaniel was 59.

Dempsey, who was born without toes on his right foot and fingers on his right hand, signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in 1969. He is best remembered for his record-setting 63-yard field goal in 1969.

The small flat shoe he kicked with is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Although Dempsey played for the Eagles, Rams, Oilers and Bills after leaving the Saints, he retired to New Orleans.

24 responses to “Tom Dempsey dies after COVID-19 battle

  1. My dad used to always talk about Dempsey as a story of triumph over disability. A legend, hero, record holder, and all in the face of those that doubted him. Rest in Peace.

  2. This is a very sad story. May he Rest In Peace and may his family find comfort knowing he is no longer suffering.

    I remember as a kid watching in awe the impossible 63 yard kick made by Mr. Dempsey and feeling so happy for him at the time. It didn’t matter that he was not on “my” team. It was remarkable.

  3. The federal government has to issue mandatory stay at home orders across all jurisdictions and the NFL has to sanction players who are breaking physical distancing laws. The NFL has a duty to this country and to people around the globe to set an example.

  4. “He is best remembered for his record-setting 63-yard field goal in 1969.”

    He kicked that field goal in 1970, on my 16th birthday. Some might not recall, or even be aware, that missed field goals at that time were like punts and usually resulted in a touchback, so long field goals were not often attempted. In 1975, he had an 81% field goal percentage for the LA Rams, a high percentage for that time.

    Mr. Dempsey lost his home in the flooding when Katrina went through New Orleans in 2005.

    Suffering from Alzheimers and dementia is sad enough. To have recovered from Covid 19 then succumb to it a few days later is just tragic. RIP.

  5. R.I.P. Tom!

    One of the best highlights is the radio play by play call on top of the video replay. The local announcer is cynical, almost laughing they would try the FG. Then he goes nuts when Tom makes it.

  6. I remember when he was a Philadelphia Eagle…Ron Jaworski and him were major drinking buddies..they called themselves the Munchkins. Great friends. Tom was a helluva kicker back in the day. RIP.

  7. Sad about Dempsey. This virus seems to commonly have a short recovery period and then get worse again unexpectedly for some people. Obviously having many other health problems wasn’t in Dempsey’s favor but this sucks.

  8. I read that he was recovering from the virus and was actually doing very well. What a shock to his family! New Orleans and saints fans will never forget Tom!

    What a great story of a tremendous human being that did something extraordinary in his life. I’m not talking about the long standing record setting field goal. It’s beating the odds, and being told as a child, he wouldn’t be able to walk. The man went on to kick in the NFL.

  9. What a tragedy. Eagles fans everywhere salute you, Tom. We loved having you in Philly.

  10. Truly one of those great, unforgettable chapters in the story of pro football and the NFL.
    And yes, I’m old enough to remember it.
    Long before soccer style kicking took over the league, I’ll say, Hooray, for the toe footed, or in this case toe-less, kickers.

  11. As an early teen, I met Tom Dempsey at an Eagles event at Ursinus College in the Philly burbs. We just walked up to him and he gave his autograph to my buddy. Later we got Roman Gabriel’s autograph but he signed right over Tom’s autograph. Just a funny childhood memory.

    I had not heard Tom had dementia. So sad. RIP

  12. I always enjoyed watching Tom Dempsey play back in the day. I was a huge fan of Roman Gabriel and the Rams,and the Saints were in the NFC West back then,so of course they played each other in the division. I remember very clearly the record-setting kick against Detroit. I was always amazed by Dempsey as an athlete and a person. Sad to see it end like this. Rest in peace Tom,and thanks for leaving us in awe with some great football moments…

  13. I knew about the toes but I did not know about his hand. Most guys don’t get a record that stands as long as his did. RiP

  14. One thing I remember when reading about Dempsey’s kick is that, because at the time the goal posts were on the goal line, that the ball was placed on the 37 yard line…his own 37.

  15. What a cruel joke fate has played. Seems so unfair to him his family, and all the fans, to think and be glad for a personal victory over this illness, only to lose his life to it after all.

  16. I still consider Dempsey’s 63 yd field goal the nfl record in my book. The 64 yd current record was kicked in Denver, where the air has much less density than any other nfl stadium. 2 of the other 3 63yd kicks were also in Denver.

  17. RIP Tom. You were around when I was becoming an Eagles fan. Bill Bradley…didnt have Sunday Ticket back then. But I tell you what I do have, is an authentic White Eags helmet with the green wings.

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