In this Nov. 8, 1970 file photo, the New Orleans Saints' Tom Dempsey (19) who
was missing fingers on a hand and toes on his right foot, moves up to kick a
63-yard field goal against the Detroit Lions in New Orleans, an NFL record that
stood for more than four decades. Dempsey died April 4 of COVID-19.
By Jim Vittek | Cleveland.com
CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio -- I wondered how long it would take for the coronavirus to kill someone I knew. It didn’t take long. Thus, I was saddened to learn last month of the death of former NFL placekicker Tom Dempsey, who overcame a physical disability to kick a 63-yard field goal for the New Orleans Saints in 1970. It stood as an NFL record for more than 40 years. His death from coronavirus at 73 took me to another place and time.
I knew Tom when we were both young men living in Southern California, a few years before his incredible athletic accomplishment. We shot pool together. I consulted him when I was considering trying out for the Palomar College track team, for which he threw shot put. Tom was born without toes on his kicking foot. From our pool hall days, I remember that he was without fingers on his right hand. It wasn’t until I moved back to Ohio that I read of that almost unbelievable kick. I was amazed.
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