The Eagles are saddened to learn of the passing of former kicker Tom Dempsey, who passed away late Saturday at the age of 73 due to complications from the coronavirus.
Born without fingers on his right hand and toes on his right foot, Dempsey utilized a custom, flat-front shoe to kick. He also lined up directly behind the ball, instead of taking a few steps back and to the side like most kickers.
Dempsey will forever be known for his game-winning 63-yard field goal in 1970 with the New Orleans Saints. It set the record for the longest field goal in NFL history, a mark that stood for over 43 years. The previous long before Dempsey's field goal was 56 yards.
Dempsey joined the Eagles in 1971 after he struggled in the preseason following the historic kick with the Saints. He rebounded to kick the longest field goal in the league that season (54 yards) and connect on the highest percentage of field goal attempts (70.6). The 54-yarder is still tied for the sixth-longest field goal in franchise history.
In four seasons with the Eagles, Dempsey finished with 66 field goals and 282 points, good for ninth among kickers in Eagles history. During the 1974 season, the NFL moved the goal posts from the goal line to the back of the end zone where they currently stand to try and reduce long field goal attempts. In 1977, the NFL passed what is known as the Tom Dempsey Rule stating 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."
Following his four years in Philadelphia, Dempsey spent five more years in the league with the Rams, Oilers, and Bills. Dempsey made his home in New Orleans after his career. He is survived by his wife, Carlene, three children – Ashley, Toby, and Meghan – and three grandchildren.