NFL legend Tom Dempsey who had dementia dies of coronavirus at 73 in a New Orleans retirement home

He was one of at least 15 residents of a New Orleans retirement home who died after contracting the deadly virus


                            NFL legend Tom Dempsey who had dementia dies of coronavirus at 73 in a New Orleans retirement home
(Getty Images)

NFL legend Tom Dempsey, known for breaking records with a 63-yard field goal for the New Orleans Saints in 1970, has tragically died after being infected with the novel coronavirus.

Family members revealed the retired NFL kicker was 73 when he died on April 4 night at a New Orleans retirement home.

Dempsey — who started his professional career with the Saints in 1969 and went on to play for the Eagles, Rams, Oilers, and Bills — was one of at least 15 residents of the Lambeth House who died of the deadly illness, according to the Times-Picayune.

His daughter Ashley revealed that he tested positive for the novel coronavirus on March 25. Dempsey had already been battling Alzheimer's disease and dementia when he was tested positive for coronavirus.

Placekicker Tom Dempsey #19, of the New Orleans Saints, on the field during a game against the Atlanta Falcons on October 25, 1970 at Atlanta Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia  (Diamond Images/Getty Images)

The legend was born with no toes on his right foot and without fingers on his right hand. During his career with the NFL, Dempsey wore a specially made shoe and defied all odds when he broke the previous field goal record by seven yards on November 8, 1970, helping the Saints beat the Detroit Lions in a whopping 19-7 victory.

The next NFL kicker to even convert from 60 yards came only in 1984

Dempsey's record was finally beaten in 2013 by Broncos' Matt Prater (from a staggering 64 yards) and thrice tied by others.

Nonetheless, Dempsey's kick still lives on after so many decades — with broadcaster Al Wester's voice echoing across the Tulane Stadium.

"Dempsey kicks," Wester bawled at the time. "It's on the way ... it is ... good! It's good! It's good! The Saints have won! The Saints have won! The Saints have won! The stadium is wild. Dempsey is being mobbed. The time has run out, the Saints have won, 19 to 17. Dempsey with a 63-yard field goal. The longest field goal in the history of the national league!"

Despite being surpassed in the record books, that momentous kick will live on as one of the NFL's classic moments.

"Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Carlene and the entire Dempsey family on the passing of their dear Tom," Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. "The New Orleans Saints family is deeply saddened and heartbroken at this most difficult time. Tom's life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations. He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humor. He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family."

It is interesting to note that Dempsey is the third person associated with the Saints to have been infected by the deadly virus. On March 19, the team's head coach, Sean Payton, tested positive but has since recovered. Bobby Hebert Sr., the father of former Saints quarterback Bobby Hebert, died on April 4 following complications from the coronavirus.

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