For me, I first became aware Tom Dempsey when my mother, a die-hard Denver Broncos fan would bring him up as one of her all-time favorite players. She told me as a kid how he was the one to kick the longest field goal in the history of NFL and how he did it with no toes on his kicking foot. Why him, a Saint’s player? She has always loved underdogs and here was one who succeeded at the top of his game.
On October 25, 1998 Broncos fans began to hear one of their own mentioned alongside Tom Dempsey’s name.
Jason Elam’s record-tying field goal forever tied him and the Denver Broncos to Tom Dempsey. For many it was one of the crown jewels on that historic 1998 Super Bowl season. You can’t tell the story of Denver’s run to become back-to-back champions without Terrell Davis’ 2,000-yard attaining run against the Seahawks, the blowout victory in the Super Bowl against the Falcons, nor can you tell the tale without without Elam’s historic kick.
Although Elam retired in 2010 after signing a 1-day contract with the Broncos following a stint with the Atlanta Falcons, the history of that 1998 kick would persist beyond his tenure in the NFL. It was a record that he enjoyed sharing for 15 years.
On December 8, 2013 another Denver Bronco would etch his name in the record book next to Tom Dempsey’s.
When you have Peyton Manning rewriting the NFL record book on the way to a crushing Super Bowl defeat at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, it’s easy to overlook what an accomplishment Matt Prater’s 64-yard field goal was. For 43-years, Dempsey’s record reigned supreme in an NFL landscape where records don’t last long. Heck, many of Manning’s records from that historic 2013 season have been or will soon be eclipsed by others.
Even though Tom Dempsey never suited up for the Denver Broncos, his presence has been with us longer than many of us realize. It was the benchmark that he set that all other kickers would be judged. Although, Brett Maher, Graham Gano, David Akers, and Sebastian Janikowski would eventually match Elam and Dempsey, we as Broncos fans will always know that we were the first and the last when it comes to matching this legendary kicker.
Tom Dempsey passed away at the age of 73 due to complications of from Covid-19.
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