On November 8, 1970, Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal as time expired, to give the New Orleans Saints a 19-17 win over the Detroit Lions. Just the act of kicking a winning field goal would not be very news-grabbing today, except for the dogged determination that Tom Dempsey represented.
With long hours of practice, he played in college and was good enough to be signed by the New Orleans Saints. On that fateful day in November, the Saints sent Dempsey in to kick from the forty five yard line. When the kicked ball sailed through the uprights, it set an NFL field goal record.
His record setting kick, which incidentally stood for 43 years, generated a great deal of controversy because many thought that his foot and modified shoe actually gave him an improper kicking advantage. So much so that the NFL adopted a rule informally called the Tom Dempsey Rule which required 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.
Dempsey’s refusal to give up ultimately led him to be inducted into the American Football Association’s Semi Pro Football Hall of Fame. At the time of his record-setting kick, he broke the previous kicking record by 7 yards.
DID YOU KNOW that the opposing kicker for the Detroit Lions had just given them the lead by kicking an 18 yard field goal with 11 seconds to go in the game, just prior to Dempsey kicking his game winner. At the time, his coach called on Dempsey to kick the field goal, by calling him by his nickname… Stumpy. I’m not sure that anyone would want to be called Fatty, Tubby or Stumpy!
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