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Kickers Hartley, Dempsey fast friends Kickers Hartley, Dempsey fast friends

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; METAIRIE — Last season, the New Orleans Saints set the standard for the NFL when they won their first Super Bowl championship. But one Saints player has set an NFL standard for 40 years. Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field ...

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Old 11-06-2010, 11:26 AM   #1
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METAIRIE — Last season, the New Orleans Saints set the standard for the NFL when they won their first Super Bowl championship. But one Saints player has set an NFL standard for 40 years.

Tom Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal — seven yards longer the previous longest kick in NFL history — on the final play of the game to give New Orleans a 19-17 victory over Detroit in Tulane Stadium. That happened Nov. 8, 1970, and the 40th anniversary is Monday.

Though Jason Elam of the Broncos matched Dempsey’s length in 1998, Dempsey, 63, continues to share the record and remains one of the most famous and popular Saints players ever even though he played only two seasons in New Orleans.

Current Saints place-kicker Garrett Hartley said he and Dempsey have gotten to know one another by participating in joint autograph signings and participating in the Saints Hall of Fame golf tournament. Dempsey was one of the Hall’s first inductees.

“He’s a great guy,” Hartley said. “He’s old school. He shoots you straight. What he was able to accomplish still holds up in the record books today, and I think it’s something that all kickers have respect for. ”

The Saints were in just their fourth season and were playing their first game since firing Tom Fears as coach when Dempsey made his kick. The Lions had gone ahead, 17-16, with just 24 seconds remaining. Al Dodd returned the kickoff to the 28-yard line and made a point of getting out of bounds because back then the clock would keep running on kickoff returns on which the ball carrier was tackled in bounds.

Then Dodd made an acrobatic catch of a pass from Billy Kilmer — “Furnace Face,” Dempsey said, invoking Kilmer’s nickname — at the New Orleans 37-yard line. (The goal posts were on the goal line back then.) Rookie coach J.D. Roberts then sent in Dempsey, who said holder Joe Scarpati decided to move back an extra yard to make sure Dempsey’s kick made it over the line.

“I didn’t know it was 63 yards; if I had known it was 63 yards, I probably would have missed it,” Dempsey said. “I knew the second I hit the ball that it was going to go a long way. The only thing I was worried about was would it stay straight that long.”

Dempsey’s kick remains one of the most famous plays in team history, but now he shares the spotlight among Saints place-kickers with Hartley, who made a 40-yard field goal in overtime of the NFC Championship to send the Saints to the Super Bowl, then set a Super Bowl record by making three goals of more than 40 yards in New Orleans’ victory.

“The kicks that he had getting into the Super Bowl and in the Super Bowl were great,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey watched Hartley’s and the Saints’ heroics from “my favorite bar in the world, The Old Absinthe House” (in the French Quarter), a favorite hangout of Dempsey and his teammates in their playing days.

“It was absolutely phenomenal,” Dempsey said. “I walked out once I knew it was over with and watched the people charging down Bourbon Street. It was phenomenal. I was happy for them.”

Hartley has struggled some this season, missing four kicks, including a 29-yarder that would have beaten Atlanta in a game the Saints eventually lost.

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Old 11-07-2010, 10:52 AM   #2
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Great read.I like Hartley alot and hope he gets over his early season struggles.He sure beats Carney.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:36 AM   #3
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i love the old vet talking with the kid.
makes me proud. I loved that day! i really did - one of my earliest and greatest sports memories.
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