New Orleans Saints great Tom Dempsey has died aged 73 after contracting the coronavirus.
Signed by the NFL franchise in 1969 as an undrafted kicker out of Palomar College, his 63-yard attempt the following year set the NFL record for the longest field goal – a kick that was not surpassed until 2013.
Dempsey, who was born without toes on his right foot and fingers on his right hand, had been in the grips of Alzheimer’s and dementia since 2012.
He was diagnosed with Covid-19 on March 25 and died on April 4 aged 73.
Saints owner Gayle Benson said: “Our thoughts and prayers are extended to Carlene and the entire Dempsey family on the passing of their dear Tom.
“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 humour.
“He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family.”