Tom Dempsey
Tom Dempsey. Photo courtesy NFL

Tom Dempsey, the NFL’s longtime record holder for longest field goal and a former San Dieguito high school and Palomar College student, has died of complications from the coronavirus at the age of 73.

Dempsey died Saturday night at Lambeth House Retirement Community in New Orleans, his family told The Times-Picayune.

He contracted the virus in March during an outbreak at the retirement home, where at least 15 residents have died after being stricken with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Dempsey was born without fingers on his right hand or toes on his right foot, his kicking foot. He wore a specialized flat shoe during games.

On Nov. 8, 1970, Dempsey kicked a record 63-yard field goal as time expired to give the New Orleans Saints a 19-17 victory over the Detroit Lions. It broke the existing NFL record by seven yards.

His record stood until 2013, when Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos kicked a 64-yarder aided by the high altitude in Denver.

New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson said, “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.”

Dempsey, who was born in Milwaukee, competed in football, wrestling and track and field at Palomar College. He was inducted into the college’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.

— City News Service