The Long Boot

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DEMPSEY’S RECORD | What handicap?

I’m reading “A Few Seconds of Panic,” the story of sportswriter Stefan Fatsis’ turn as a kicker for the Denver Broncos during the team’s 2006 training camps. It’s a George Plimpton/Paper Lion-like telling of months Fatsis spent in preparation to turn his 43-year-old body into an athlete’s body, taking his years of experience playing recreational soccer and making himself into a kicker who can boot 40-yard field goals. It’s a great book, especially the insights into the lives of pro football players trying to make the team and keep their jobs…

I’m not much of a football fan anymore, but Fatsis’ stories about the fascinating Jason Elam – the former Pro Bowl kicker for Denver – made me think about Tom Dempsey. Elam tied Dempsey’s NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in 1998; Dempsey, who was born with a deformed foot (see above) and hand, booted his in 1970. Here’s a video of the kick, which I saw on TV as a seven-year-old…

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