Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bear Down Sunday #12

Today, the woeful Chicago Bears are facing the maybe more woeful St. Louis Rams. The Bears should win this one, but it might come down to a field goal. Therefore, my featured player is a former kicker for the Rams, but from their Los Angeles years.
Tom Dempsey was a kicker for 11 seasons in the NFL, including 2 with the Rams. In 1970, Dempsey set the record for the longest field goal at 63 yards. That record has since been tied by Jason Elam. The bigger story was really that Dempsey was born without toes on his kicking foot. He wore a modified flat-front shoe. This later caused the NFL to implement the "Tom Dempsey Rule", which states that regardless of the foot itself, any shoe must have a kicking surface conforming to that of a normal shoe. I suppose that is a good idea, considering all of the technology available. Still, it should not diminish Dempsey's accomplishment.
I had heard that Dempsey could be a bit surly. Nonetheless, I approached him eagerly at the Ultimate Collectibles Show. Dempsey was anything but surly. He was downright jolly. We talked about kicking and his physical challenges. (He also has a shortened arm.) I told him how I heard that he was one of the toughest players during his day. He laughed it off and said it was an overstatement. I said I believe it was Chicago's Doug Buffone who said it and he laughed some more. Somehow, despite his physical limitations, I believe Buffone. There was something about Dempsey. I mean this with all respect towards Dempsey. He seems like he was one tough guy back in the day.
Tom Dempsey and me in Oaks, PA-October 2009.

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