New Orleans Saints legendary kicker Tom Dempsey died at 73 years old Saturday, the team announced Sunday morning. Dempsey, who was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1989, died from complications of COVID-19, which he contracted on March 25. He's also battled Alzheimer's disease and dementia since 2012.
"Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Carlene and the entire Dempsey family on the passing of their dear Tom," Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. "The New Orleans Saints family is deeply saddened and heartbroken at this most difficult time. 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. He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humor. He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family."
Dempsey was born without toes on his right foot and fingers on his right hand, but was still able to turn in a strong kicking career with the Saints after signing on with the club in 1969 as an undrafted free agent. Because of that disability, he wore a flat shoe that he kicked with, which is currently on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During his rookie season, Dempsey hit a record-setting 63-yard field goal, which was the longest made field goal in NFL history until Matt Prater nailed a 64-yarder in 2013.
While he's most known as being a member of the Saints, Dempsey also made stops with the Eagles, Rams, Oilers and Bills before retiring to New Orleans in 1979. For his career, Dempsey netted 61.6% of his field goals and 89.4% of his extra points. His 729 points scored in his career rank just outside the top 100 on the all-time points list.