Tom Dempsey

Thomas John Dempsey (born January 12, 1947) is a former American football placekicker in the National Football League (NFL) for the New Orleans Saints (1969–1970), Philadelphia Eagles (1971–1974), Los Angeles Rams (1975–1976), Houston Oilers (1977) and Buffalo Bills (1978–1979). He attended high school at San Dieguito High School and played college football at Palomar College. Unlike the "soccer style" approach which was becoming more and more widely used during his career, Dempsey's kicking style was the standard (of the day) straight-toe style.

Tom Dempsey
No. 19, 10, 23, 6 
Personal information
Born:January 12, 1947 (age 72)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:255 lb (116 kg)
Career information
High school:Encinitas (CA) San Dieguito
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
PAT:252/282 (89.4%)
FG:159/258 (61.6%)
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

NFL career

Dempsey is most widely known for kicking a 63-yard field goal as time expired to give the Saints a 19–17 win over the Detroit Lions on November 8, 1970 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans.[1] Prior to 1974 the goal posts in the NFL were on the goal lines instead of the end lines, and a missed field goal was treated the same as a punt: if it missed, it was a touchback unless it landed in the field of play and was returned. With time running out in the game, the Saints attempted a field goal with holder Joe Scarpati spotting at the Saints' own 37-yard line. The snap from Jackie Burkett was good, and Dempsey nailed the field goal with a couple of feet to spare. The win was one of only two for the Saints in that dismal season. For many years, it was believed that Saints quarterback Billy Kilmer was the holder of that historic kick, but photos of that day, as well as radio and television calls, revealed that Scarpati was actually the holder.[2]

With the kick, Dempsey broke Bert Rechichar's NFL record for longest field goal by seven yards. That record was equaled by Jason Elam in 1998, Sebastian Janikowski in 2011, and David Akers in 2012. On December 8, 2013, Matt Prater topped Dempsey's mark by hitting a 64-yard field goal.

Tom dempsey
Dempsey's special kicking shoe

Dempsey was born without toes on his right foot and no fingers on his right hand. He wore a modified shoe with a flattened and enlarged toe surface. This generated controversy about whether such a shoe gave a player an unfair advantage. When reporters would ask him if he thought it was unfair, he said, "Unfair, eh? How 'bout you try kickin' a 63 yard field goal to win it with 2 seconds left an' yer wearin' a square shoe, oh yeah, and no toes either."[3][4] Additionally, when an analysis of his kick was carried out by ESPN Sport Science, it was found that his modified shoe had offered him no advantage – in fact, it was found that the smaller contact area could have reduced, not increased, the margin for error.[5]

The league made two rule changes in the subsequent years to discourage further long field goal attempts. The first was in 1974, which moved the goal posts from the goal line to the back of the end zone (adding ten yards to the kick distance) and awarded the ball to the defense on a missed kick at the spot where the ball was snapped (this changed in 1994 to the spot of the kick). Then, in 1977, the NFL added a rule, informally known as the "Tom Dempsey Rule", that "any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe."[6][7]

Post career

In 1983, Dempsey was inducted into the American Football Association's Semi Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The hurricane flooded me out of a lot of memorabilia, but it can't flood out the memories.
— Dempsey on the effects of Hurricane Katrina

Dempsey has since retired from football and currently resides with his wife Carlene, who teaches history at Kehoe-France, a private school in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. His house was flooded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.[8]

In January 2013, Dempsey revealed he is suffering from dementia. Psychiatrist Daniel Amen made the initial diagnosis of damage to Dempsey's brain. During medical examinations and scans, Amen found three holes in the brain, along with other damage.[9]


  1. ^ Rovin, Jeff (1984). In Search of Trivia (1 ed.). New York: Penguin Group. p. 408. ISBN 0-451-16250-1.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "Remembering "The Kick"". Avoyelles Journal, Bunkie, Record, Marksville Weekly. Archived from the original on January 4, 2015. Retrieved January 4, 2015.
  4. ^ Lewis, Michael (October 28, 2007). "The Kick Is Up and It's...A Career-Killer". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2010., New York Times, October 28, 2007
  5. ^ "World's Longest Field Goal". ESPN Sport's Science.
  6. ^ "Rules of the Name, or How the Emmitt Rule Became the Emmitt Rule,". Archived from the original on December 11, 2007. Professional Football Researchers Association
  7. ^ "Official NFL Rulebook 2006" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 16, 2010. See Rule 5, Section 3, Article 3 Paragraph (g)
  8. ^ Crouse, Karen. "A Favorite Saint," The New York Times, Saturday, January 30, 2010.
  9. ^ Dykes, Brett Michael (January 27, 2013). "For former kicker, the price of fearlessness". The New York Times.

External links

1953 Baltimore Colts season

The 1953 Baltimore Colts season was the first season for the team in the National Football League. The Colts had a record of 3 wins and 9 losses and finished fifth in the Western Conference.

In January 1953, a Baltimore-based group led by Carroll Rosenbloom won the rights to a new Baltimore franchise. Rosenbloom was granted an NFL team, and awarded the holdings of the defunct Dallas Texans organization, which lasted only one season. The new team was named the Colts after the previous team that folded after the 1950 season; Baltimore was without a team in 1951 and 1952.

The 1953 Colts have the unusual distinction of having a losing record, despite having a league-leading 56 defensive takeaways. Baltimore had a winning record after five games, defeating neighbor Washington before a capacity crowd of over 34,000 at Memorial Stadium, then lost seven straight to finish the season.

In the season opener against the Chicago Bears on September 27, Colts' defensive back Bert Rechichar set an NFL record for the longest field goal (56 yards), breaking the previous unofficial record of 55 yards (set by drop kick by Paddy Driscoll in 1924). It stood for over seventeen years, until Tom Dempsey booted a 63-yarder in 1970.

1969 New Orleans Saints season

The 1969 New Orleans Saints season was the team's third as a member of the National Football League. They improved on their previous season's output of 4–9–1, winning five games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the third consecutive season. Tom Dempsey led the team in scoring with 99 points and was named to the Pro Bowl. The 1969 Saints surrendered 7.90 yards per-pass-attempt (including quarterback sacks), an NFL record at the time for the Super Bowl Era, and third all-time as of 2012.

1970 Detroit Lions season

The 1970 Detroit Lions season was the 41st season in franchise history. With a record of 10–4, the Lions finished in second place in the NFC Central and qualified for the postseason for the first time since their championship season in 1957. The Lions fell 5–0 to the Dallas Cowboys in the lowest scoring game in NFL playoff history. One unusual loss during the regular season was to the New Orleans Saints on Week 8. The Lions had a 17–16 lead with only 2 seconds left, but Saints kicker Tom Dempsey booted a then-record 63-yard field goal as time expired to give the Saints a 19–17 win.

1970 New Orleans Saints season

The 1970 New Orleans Saints season was the team's fourth as a member of the National Football League. After spending their first three seasons in the NFL's Eastern Conference, the Saints moved in 1970 to the West Division of the new National Football Conference. They failed to improve on their previous season's output of 5–9, winning only two games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season.

Following a 1–5–1 start, coach Tom Fears was fired by owner John W. Mecom Jr. and replaced by J.D. Roberts, whose first game was a 19–17 victory over the Detroit Lions at Tulane Stadium in which Tom Dempsey set an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal on the final play; it broke the record held by Bert Rechichar of the Baltimore Colts by seven yards, set seventeen years earlier. Dempsey's record was tied by three: Jason Elam (Denver Broncos, 1998), Sebastian Janikowski (Oakland Raiders, 2011), and David Akers (San Francisco 49ers, 2012). It was broken by Matt Prater of the Broncos in 2013, at 64 yards at elevation in Colorado.

The victory over the Lions was last of the season for the Saints, but both victories came over teams in the thick of the NFC playoff race. The other, a 14–10 triumph over the New York Giants in week three, cost the Giants the NFC East division championship. The Lions qualified for the playoffs as the wild card from the NFC, but were nearly forced into a coin toss with the Dallas Cowboys, a situation which was only averted when the Giants lost their season finale to the Los Angeles Rams.

1972 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1972 Philadelphia Eagles season was their 40th in the league. They failed to improve on their previous output of 6–7–1, winning only two games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the twelfth consecutive season.

Both of the Eagles' victories were one-point decisions on the road vs. AFC teams, 21-20 over the Kansas City Chiefs and 18-17 over the Houston Oilers. The meeting with the Chiefs was the last until 1992, and Kansas City did not come to Philadelphia until 1998.

Following the disastrous season, the third with three wins or fewer since 1968, general manager Pete Retzlaff resigned, and coach Ed Khayat was fired by owner Leonard Tose.

1973 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1973 Philadelphia Eagles season was the franchise’s 41st in the National Football League. Although they improved upon their 2–11–1 record of the previous season, they failed to complete a winning record for the seventh consecutive season and failed to reach the playoffs for the thirteenth straight year.

1975 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1975 Philadelphia Eagles season was the franchise’s 43rd in the National Football League. 1975 was the third season under head coach Mike McCormack, but became the Eagles’ ninth consecutive season without a winning record. The Eagles also missed the playoffs for a fifteenth consecutive season, a franchise record. Following the season, McCormack was fired and replaced for 1976 by Dick Vermeil.

1978 Miami Dolphins season

The 1978 Miami Dolphins season saw the team return to the NFL playoffs for the first time since 1974, with an 11–5 record. Quarterback Bob Griese missed the first seven games due to a knee injury. The Dolphins got off to a 5-2 start behind back-up Don Strock. Upon Griese's return the Dolphins earned a birth to the playoffs as a Wild Card. Helping to lead the Dolphins back to the postseason was Running Back Delvin Williams who set a team record with 1,258 yards rushing on the season. In the first playoff game involving two Wild Cards the Dolphins were stunned 17-9 by the Houston Oilers at the Orange Bowl. In the process the Dolphins set two notable records: scoring first in all but one of their sixteen regular season games, and never trailing at any point in eleven games. The former record was equalled by the 2004 Patriots, and the latter was beaten by the 2005 Colts.

2017 Rugby League World Cup qualification – Americas

The 2017 Rugby League World Cup Americas qualification was a rugby league tournament that was held in December 2015 to decide the American qualifier for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. It consisted of a round-robin tournament involving three teams, Canada, Jamaica and the United States, at two venues in Florida in the United States.

The United States won the tournament and qualified for the World Cup.

Bert Rechichar

Albert Daniel (Bert) Rechichar (born July 16, 1930) is a former American football defensive back and kicker who played with the National Football League's Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Colts, and Pittsburgh Steelers from 1952 to 1960. He also played for the American Football League's New York Titans in 1961. Rechichar was the tenth overall pick of the 1952 NFL Draft, selected by the Browns out of Tennessee.

Rechichar held the NFL record for the longest field goal (56 yards) for over seventeen years; while with the Colts in 1953, he broke the previous unofficial record of 55 yards (set by drop kick by Paddy Driscoll in 1924) in a game against the Chicago Bears on September 27. It stood until Tom Dempsey booted a 63-yarder in 1970; since then, at least 12 others have kicked field goals of 60 yards or more, and many others have kicked field goals of 56 yards or longer. His record-setting kick was his first field goal attempt as a professional.

Rechichar also played as an outfielder in the farm system of the Cleveland Indians, reaching as high as Reading in the Class A Eastern League.

Bill McClard

Bill W. McClard (born October 15, 1950 in Purcell, Oklahoma) is a former professional American football player.

A kicker, McClard played college football for the University of Arkansas, where he was named American Football Coaches Association All-America after the 1970 season and by The Sporting News in 1971. He kicked a then-NCAA record 60-yard field goal in 1970. This was only about one week before Tom Dempsey, with his half-foot, kicked the first 60+-yard field goal in the NFL. Both were responsible for changes in rules regarding returning field goal attempts.

Out of college, McClard was drafted in the 3rd round of the 1972 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played one year for the Chargers, kicking two field goals during his rookie season. For the next three seasons, McClard played for the New Orleans Saints, where he was successful on 26 of 51 field goal attempts and 31 of 32 extra points.Since retiring from football, McClard has been a commercial real estate broker in Rogers, Arkansas.

Bobby Bryant

Bobby Bryant (born January 24, 1944) is a former cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings during the days of the Purple People Eaters (1968–1980).

Bryant is second on the Vikings all-time list with 51 career interceptions, and recorded the longest interception return in team history (at that time) with a 63-yard pick six against the Dallas Cowboys in 1973. (Paul Krause leads with 53). He was named to the 1975 and 1976 NFC Pro Bowl squads. He is one of 11 Vikings to have played in all four of their Super Bowls in the 1970s. He also played on special teams returning kicks and punts and was known for blowing kisses to the crowd. In the 1976 NFC Championship game, Bobby Bryant returned a blocked FG attempt by the Los Angeles Rams' Tom Dempsey for a TD and had 2 interceptions in the game.

Charlie Durkee

Charles Michael Durkee (born June 25, 1944 in Tulsa, Oklahoma) is a former professional American football player. In 1967, Durkee became the first kicker for the expansion New Orleans Saints.

Durkee was with the Saints in 1967 and 1968, and again in 1971 and a portion of the 1972 season. He did not play in the NFL in 1969 or 1970.

Durkee's most productive season was in 1968, when he was responsible for 84 points as the Saints' kicker. He made 19 of 37 field goal attempts and 27 out of 27 extra points. However, the Saints would use Tom Dempsey in 1969 and 1970. Although Dempsey made a 63-yard field goal to win a game against Detroit in 1970, an NFL record at the time, he was traded by the Saints to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1971. Durkee then returned to the Saints, serving as their kicker in 1971 and part of the 1972 season.

Dick Absher

Richard Alfred Absher, Jr. (born April 19, 1944) is a former American football linebacker (and sometimes kicker) in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and the Philadelphia Eagles. He played college football at the University of Maryland and was drafted in the fifth round of the 1967 NFL Draft by the Eagles.

Absher played for the New Orleans Saints when Tom Dempsey made his record-breaking kick of 63 yards against the Detroit Lions on November 8, 1970.

Horst Mühlmann

Horst Herbert Erich Mühlmann (2 January 1940 – 17 November 1991) was a professional footballer and American football player. He was a placekicker in the American Football League and the National Football League for nine seasons. He played for the Kansas City Chiefs (1969), the Cincinnati Bengals (from 1969 to 1974) and the Philadelphia Eagles (from 1975 to 1977).

Mühlmann was born in Dortmund, Germany. After high school, he worked as a bricklayer and part-time footballer. He played as a goalkeeper for Schalke 04 from 1961 to 1966, including the first ever Bundesliga season in 1963–64. In 1968, he played soccer in the North American Soccer League (NASL) for the Kansas City Spurs.

His professional career in American football began in 1969 with the Kansas City Chiefs when he was 29 years old. Mühlmann quickly established a reputation as one of the longest kickers in the game. On 4 September 1971, in a pre-season encounter with the Green Bay Packers, he launched each of his six kickoffs over the crossbar into the endzone denying the Packers a single kickoff return yard. Mühlmann was the first kicker since the AFL-NFL merger to connect on field goals of 50 yards or more in three consecutive games. This record has only been matched by three other players: Tom Dempsey (1971), Chris Bahr (1981) and Jason Elam (1996). Mühlmann held the Bengals team record for consecutive extra points (101) until it was broken by Doug Pelfrey in 1997. Mühlmann still holds or shares several Bengals regular season and post season individual kicking records.

The money Mühlmann earned during his time in the U.S. he invested in an apartment house in Selm where he lived with his family until he died from a chronic lung disease. The Horst Mühlmann Bars are located in the North and South endzones on the Plaza level of Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium.

Sebastian Janikowski

Sebastian Paweł Janikowski (Polish pronunciation: [sɛˈbastjan janiˈkɔfskʲi]; born March 2, 1978) is a Polish-born former American football placekicker. He played college football for Florida State University, and was a two-time consensus All-America. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders 17th overall in the 2000 NFL draft, only the third time a kicker was taken in the first round. He has the nickname "Seabass". He played 19 years in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks. On September 12, 2011, in a Monday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos, he tied the previous NFL record for the longest field goal at 63 yards, sharing the record with Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam, Graham Gano, and David Akers. The record stood for just over two years when it was broken by Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater on December 8, 2013. Janikowski also holds the record for most games played with the Raiders; at the end of the 2017 season he had played 268 games with the team.

Thomas Dempsey

Thomas or Tom Dempsey may refer to:

Tom Dempsey (rugby league) (born 1994), Canadian international rugby league player

Tom Dempsey (Missouri politician) (born 1967), Missouri restaurateur and politician

Tom Dempsey (hurler) (born 1965), former Wexford hurler

Tom Dempsey (born 1947), American football player

Thomas W. Dempsey (born 1931), Pennsylvania politician

Tom Dempsey (Missouri politician)

Thomas Dwayne Dempsey (born May 8, 1967) is an American restaurateur and former Republican politician, previously serving in the Missouri Senate as President Pro Tempore. Dempsey is now a partner at the Gate Way Group, a multi-state government relations firm based in St. Louis.

Tom Dempsey (hurler)

Tom Dempsey (born 1965 in Kilmuckridge, County Wexford) is a retired Irish sportsperson. He played hurling with his local club Buffer's Alley and with the Wexford senior inter-county team from 1984 until 2000.

Regular season statistics
Season Team (record) G FGM FGA % <20 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ LNG BLK XPM XPA % PTS
1969 New Orleans Saints (5–9) 14 22 41 53.7 5–6 6–7 3–6 7–11 1–11 55 0 33 35 94.3 99
1970 New Orleans Saints (2–11–1) 14 18 34 52.9 4–5 6–8 1–5 4–7 3–9 63 0 16 17 94.1 70
1971 Philadelphia Eagles (6–7–1) 5 12 17 70.6 0–0 6–7 1–2 2–3 3–5 54 0 13 14 92.9 49
1972 Philadelphia Eagles (2–11–1) 14 20 35 57.1 6–6 3–6 7–10 2–9 2–4 52 0 11 12 91.7 71
1973 Philadelphia Eagles (5–8–1) 14 24 40 60.0 7–7 4–7 7–11 4–9 2–6 51 0 34 34 100.0 106
1974 Philadelphia Eagles (7–7) 14 10 16 62.5 1–1 1–2 4–6 4–6 0–1 48 0 26 30 86.7 56
1975 Los Angeles Rams (12–2) 14 21 26 80.8 2–2 7–7 7–10 4–5 1–2 51 0 31 36 86.1 94
1976 Los Angeles Rams (10–3–1) 14 17 26 65.4 2–2 5–8 4–5 6–10 0–1 49 0 36 44 81.8 87
1977 Houston Oilers (8–6) 5 4 6 66.7 0–0 3–3 1–2 0–1 0–0 37 0 8 11 72.7 20
1978 Buffalo Bills (5–11) 16 10 13 76.9 0–0 5–5 4–5 1–3 0–0 46 0 36 38 94.7 66
1979 Buffalo Bills (7–9) 3 1 4 25.0 1–1 0–0 0–2 0–1 0–0 18 0 8 11 72.7 11
Career (11 seasons) 127 159 258 61.6 28–30 46–60 39–64 34–65 12–39 63 0 252 282 89.4 729
Wild card berths (5)
Division championships (7)
Conference championships (1)
League championships (1)
Ring of Honor
Current league affiliations
Seasons (53)
Related programs
Related articles
NFL Championship
Super Bowl
Pro Bowl

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