Daily Update: Sunday, November 8th, 2015

11-08 -Tom Dempsey's Field Goal

Today is the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time. No Saints today, so instead we will celebrate Tom Dempsey’s foot and his record-setting National Football League field goal to win a game for the New Orleans Saints against the Detroit Lions on this date in 1970; his record stood for 43 years. And today would have been an Early Voting day for the November 21st, 2015 Louisiana Gubernatorial General Election, except that there is no voting on a Sunday.

Tom Dempsey was born without toes on his right foot and no fingers on his right hand. He wore a modified shoe with a flattened and enlarged toe surface, played football through his high school and college career, and was hired in 1969 by the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League as a kicker. With time running out in their game on November 8, 1970 with the Detroit Lions, with the score 17 to 16 in favor of the Lions, the Saints attempted a field goal with holder Joe Scarpati spotting at the Saints’ own 37 yard line. The snap from Jackie Burkett was good, and Dempsey nailed the 63-yard field goal with a couple of feet to spare. With the kick, Dempsey broke Bert Rechichar’s 1953 NFL record for the longest field goal by seven yards. This won the game for the Saints, one of their only two wins in an otherwise dismal year for them. In 1974 the NFL moved the goal posts to the end lines (they had been on the goal lines), and in 1977, the NFL added a rule, informally known as the “Tom Dempsey Rule,” 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.” When an analysis of his kick was carried out by ESPN Sport Science, it was found that his modified shoe offered him no advantage – the smaller contact area could in fact have increased the margin of error. When Richard and I visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in October of 2007, the New Orleans Saints section was very small (I suspect their space is larger now, since their 2009 season). In the Historical Section was Tom Dempsey’s shoe that he used to kick the field goal; I made sure to take a photo of it, and thus we have the photo heading up today’s Daily Update. The record was equaled three times: on October 25, 1998, by Jason Elam of the Denver Broncos against the Jacksonville Jaguars, at Mile High Stadium in Denver; on September 12, 2011, by Sebastian Janikowski of the Oakland Raiders against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver; and by David Akers of the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field, on September 9, 2012. Also in Denver, Ola Kimrin kicked a 65-yard field goal in 2002, but as it was in a preseason exhibition game, it did not count. Matthew Prater finally broke the record with a 64-yard field goal, which he set on December 8, 2013, in Denver in a game against the Tennessee Titans. And today would have been an Early Voting day for the November 21st, 2015 Louisiana Gubernatorial General Election, except that there is no voting on a Sunday.

Last night our hapless New Orleans Pelicans lost their away game with the Dallas Mavericks by the score of 97 to 107. Our Pelicans will play the Dallas Mavericks again, at home, on November 10th.

We woke up at the Best Western Falls Church Inn in Falls Church, Virginia at 8:00 am. I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and we checked out of the motel at 8:45 am. We stopped at CVS for a newspaper, and then ate breakfast at IHOP. I started reading The Washington Post; it was quite busy at IHOP, with all the families coming in after church.

Richard and I were on the road (US-50 West) at 9:45 am. We stopped at PetSmart to see the local cats up for adoption, and at a Wal-Mart I got a new pair of sunglasses to replace the ones I lost in Philadelphia. I then finished reading the paper and did my Internet Devotional Reading. We reached West Virginia at 12:45 pm, and started listening to the New Orleans Saints game with the Tennessee Titans on SiriusXM. (Once in a while the Sirius would lose a signal for a few moments, usually when we were deep in a valley; meanwhile my Internet on my phone was mostly out.) We entered Maryland at 2:15 pm, and reached West Virginia again at 2:30 pm. The road between Aurora and Grafton was quite gorgeous; it was a clear day, and we were on two 9% grades and one 8% grade. We got a late lunch at the McDonald’s in Grafton, and I sent a text to Liz Ellen asking about her Monday schedule. In the College Football Polls, LSU dropped from #4 to #9 on both the AP Poll and the Coaches Poll.

We checked in at the Sleep Inn in Bridgeport, West Virginia at 4:30 pm; I stayed in the car to hear the end of the game. After trailing the Saints for the whole game, the Tennessee Titans tied it up, then scored a touchdown in overtime to beat the New Orleans Saints by the score of 28 to 32. (Our Saints will play an away game with the Washington Redskins next Sunday in the early game.) I then called Liz Ellen, who said she would be tied up at work until 2:00 pm Tuesday; we then traded texts about our plans (more anon). Richard and I spent the rest of the day relaxing in our motel room.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. Tomorrow is also the birthday of my first cousin Marianne (1962); her brother John was born in 1952, her brother Tim in 1954, her sister Susan in 1956, me in 1958, my sister in 1960, and Marianne in 1962. (The one who throws out the string is my brother, who was born in 1955.) And we have Early Voting for the November 21st, 2015 Louisiana Gubernatorial General Election. Richard and I will head up to Canton, Ohio to see the Pro Football Hall of Fame again.

Our Sunday Evening Parting Quote comes to us from Bil Keane, American cartoonist. Born as William Keane in 1922 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he attended Catholic high school; while still in school he taught himself to draw by mimicking the style of the cartoons published in The New Yorker. His first cartoon was published on May 21, 1936 on the amateur page of the Philadelphia Daily News. While in high school, his in-comic signature was spelled “Bill Keane”, but early in his career, he omitted the second L from his first name “to be distinctive”. Keane served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945, drawing for Yank and creating the “At Ease with the Japanese” feature for the Pacific edition of Stars and Stripes. While stationed in Australia he met Thelma “Thel” Carne; they were married in Brisbane in 1948, settled in Roslyn, Pennsylvania, and had five children. Keane worked for the Philadelphia Bulletin as a staff artist from 1946 to 1959, where he launched his first regular comic strip Silly Philly. His first syndicated strip, Channel Chuckles, a series of jokes related to television, premiered in 1954 and ran until 1977. In 1959 the Keane family moved to Paradise Valley, Arizona. Keane’s daily newspaper panel The Family Circle premiered on February 29, 1960. The strip generally used a single captioned panel with a round border, hence the name of the comic strip, which was changed following objections from the magazine Family Circle to The Family Circus. The parents in the strip are Bil and Thel, and the four children in the strip are fictionalized compositions of the Keane’s five children, with the children not aging (Billy has been seven years old since 1960). According to publisher King Features Syndicate, it is the most widely syndicated cartoon panel in the world, appearing in 1,500 newspapers. There are 89 compilations of Family Circus cartoons, and Family Circus has appeared in animated form in three television specials: A Special Valentine with the Family Circus (1978), A Family Circus Christmas (1979), and A Family Circus Easter (1982). Keane was the president of the National Cartoonists Society from 1981 to 1983 and was the emcee of the Society’s annual awards banquet for 16 years. Also from 1981 to 1983 Kean published the gag strip Eggheads in collaboration with his son Jeff Keane; when Keane retired from doing The Family Circus his son continued the strip. In 1998 Keane became the tenth recipient of the Arizona Heritage Award, joining, among others, Barry Goldwater, Sandra Day O’Connor, Mo Udall and Erma Bombeck. The Family Circus has been widely satirized in film, television, and other daily comic strips, and the official Family Circus website contains a sampling of syndicated comic strips from other authors which parody Keane’s characters (died 2011): “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.”

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