Legendary Locals of Metairie

Tom Dempsey

This website contains excerpts along with some of the 172 photographs in Legendary Locals of Metairie (Arcadia Publishing, 2013) by Catherine Campanella.
Use the links here to explore a sample of the book -- or purchase it for an in-depth view.


On November 8, 1970 with two seconds left in a Saints home game at Tulane Stadium against the Detroit Lions, with the Saints behind with a score of 17-16, Thomas John Dempsey broke an NFL field goal record with a 63-yard kick. He had beat the record of 56 yards set by Bert Rechichar two decades before. The Saints won the game and Dempsey won fame as well as a record which has yet to be broken as of 2012. It is known as “The kick heard around the world”.

Born without a right hand and only half a right foot, he wore a custom-made shoe which caused some controversy as to whether it afforded him an advantage over other kickers. In 1977 the “Tom Dempsey Rule” was adopted by the NFL which mandates that "any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe."

As a Saint he played in the Pro Bowl in 1969 – his first year as a professional. It was in his second season that blasted the “kick heard ‘round the world”. He went on the play with Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Houston, and Buffalo before retiring in 1979 with an eleven year career. And then he went back to his adopted home in Metairie to raise his family. He was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame in 1989 and the American Football Kicking Hall of Fame in 2010. Dempsey is seen here just before breaking the record at the Saints 37 yard line with Joe Scarpati holding the ball.

Other books by Catherine Campanella:

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book is dedicated to the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation's efforts to rebuild and maintain the historic New Canal Lighthouse.

Excerpts from New Orleans City Park  (Images of America).

Contact Catherine Campanella